Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on May 13, 2022
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It can be easy to not be as cautious and careful as you should be when you’re planning your estate, especially if you’re young and healthy. While you want to have plans in place, you might not be that worried if the need for them still feels far away. You also might think you’re doing it correctly, but when you don’t have any experience in estate planning or fully understand all of the intricacies involved with the process, you risk making mistakes.
There are many different mistakes that can impact your estate plans and whether or not your wishes will be able to be followed. Here are a few common estate planning mistakes to watch out for.
Not Planning at All
Many adults have not taken the time to write their wills. While this might be something you’re more inclined to do when you’re getting older, every adult should have a will, regardless of their age or health. You might not expect anything to happen to you anytime soon, but, unfortunately, no one is immune to accidents and illnesses. Neglecting to plan your estate can lead to you dying intestate and your assets not being passed the way you would have wanted. This will also make things harder for your loved ones when you’re gone.
Keeping Everything a Secret
Some might think that they can handle everything on their own and not have to bring their loved ones into the estate planning process. Although how you want your assets to be distributed is up to you, you shouldn’t keep what you’re doing a secret. You should communicate your wishes with loved ones now so that no one is surprised later on to help reduce the chances of a dispute occurring. Additionally, you shouldn’t keep the location of your actual estate plans a secret. You won’t be around to show people where you left them, and you don’t want to create your plans, only for no one to be able to find them.
Not Understanding How Assets Pass
You don’t want to make the mistake of assuming that your will or a trust has total control over how all of your assets will be passed. Some assets don’t work like this. If you have assets with a beneficiary designation, such as a life insurance plan or retirement account, wills and trusts don’t affect these. If you own property jointly with rights of survivorship with another person, this isn’t affected by a will or trust and will pass automatically to that person. You need to know while creating your estate plans how your assets can be passed and ensure that your plans reflect this.
Not Updating Your Plans
If you currently have estate plans, don’t think that all the work is over. Your life can change significantly over the years, so your estate plans need to stay up to date to reflect your current circumstances. A few situations that necessitate reviewing your estate plans include when you buy new property, have a child, get divorced, or when you have an increase or decrease in assets.
Not Planning for Future Medical Care
Estate planning isn’t for only after you pass away. You also need to consider what will happen should you become incapacitated. Advance directives allow you to plan for the care you wish to receive if you’re ever unable to communicate your wishes for yourself. You can dictate what type of medical care you want and select a person to communicate these wishes on your behalf. You can also select someone to make your financial decisions while you’re incapacitated.
Not Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney
There are many DIY estate planning solutions available online that can seem like a more appealing option than hiring an estate planning attorney to do it with you. While this might seem easier, it can lead to serious problems later on. Estate planning can be complicated, especially when you have a blended family, a large estate, or other circumstances to consider. You don’t want to risk making an error that can lead to your will or trust being invalid after you pass. The best way of ensuring your wishes will be respected in the future is by hiring an estate planning attorney to help you through this process.
At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, we offer a wide range of estate planning services that can help you carefully plan for the future and provide for your loved ones. Contact us today to get started!
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