Estate planning along with the creation of wills and trusts is not always an easy topic to discuss. It is even easier to make mistakes while creating your estate plan. Our experienced estate planning attorneys often see many mistakes with people’s estate plans, both during their lifetimes and, upon their deaths. The harsh reality is there are many ways to make estate planning mistakes. Here are some common ones we see:
Not using an attorney to create your estate plan:
Recently, many people are using sites like Legalzoom or other drafting services to create their estate planning documents. We have seen so many mistakes with people creating their own estate planning documents. This may seem like a convenient alternative, however, the bottom line is that your estate plan should not be left to on-line drafting services. A good estate planning attorney should help make sure you and your family are protected. Each estate plan should be specifically tailored to the person setting it up and their needs. No two people are the same and neither are any two estate plans, that is why you need an experienced attorney to tailor a plan specifically for you and your family.
Not using a well-versed estate planning attorney:
Not all estate planning attorneys are created equal. Some attorneys do not stay on top of the law, and others merely dabble in the process. Make sure you look at your attorney’s biography and what they do to stay on top of the law and legal trends. Additionally, take the time to talk to your prospective attorney to make sure you all are on the same page about your needs and goals.
Not updating your estate plan often enough:
The act of creating your estate plan is not enough. You should likely review your estate plan with an attorney every five years or so. The law can change, your assets can change, your family situations and relationships can change, among many other important aspects. That is why picking an estate planning attorney that you trust and have a strong rapport with is so important. This attorney is going to be there with you through all of the changes life brings your way, and you need to feel comfortable discussing these details with them at any given time.
Not knowing what your will does:
It’s important to understand what your will does and how it all works. Your will only controls the assets that are in your own, individual name. Your will may not affect jointly held assets or assets with beneficiary designations, such as IRAs and life insurance policies; these types of assets have to be handled differently and carefully. This means that you need to know what all of your assets are when creating your estate plan. A professional estate planning attorney can help explain all of these details.
Not utilizing a living trust:
If you have a trust, you need to make sure you identify the assets that you want the trust to control and see to it that they are owned by the trust. This process is called funding your trust. Your estate planning attorney should help you with this as part of your estate plan and will be able to advise you as to the benefit of funding the trust with different types of assets.
Have a living will and discuss your wishes with your family:
A living will is an important part of your estate plan. This document is your written statement of your end-of-life wishes. Make sure your estate plan includes a living will and make sure you have discussed your end-of-life wishes with your family.
Not taking into account the cost of long-term care:
One important goal of estate planning is to discuss how your assets should be protected from the high cost of long-term care. If you end up needing in-home care or care in a nursing home, many of your assets could dwindle due to the high cost of this type of care. Your estate plan should consider how and when you will need to protect your assets from disappearing, such as purchasing long-term care insurance and irrevocable asset protection trusts.
From Simple Wills to Large Family Trusts, for over 40 years the team at the Wynn Law firm has been dedicated to bringing personal attention and care to each client’s situation to ensure that you and your family can have peace about the future. Contact our office today to talk with us about how we can help you navigate planning for the future.