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Don’t Make These Estate Planning Mistakes

It can be difficult to put a value on a lifetime of accumulation—your money, your home, its furnishings, souvenirs from vacations and treasured gifts from your family. It’s a joy to collect these items over the years. However, too few consider what will happen to it all when they’re no longer around.

Don’t Make These Estate Planning Mistakes.  Everything from life savings to digital assets to pets must be considered when creating an estate plan, according to the article “Seven Big Mistakes People Make When It Comes to Estate Planning” from Kiplinger. No matter how good your intentions are, some mistakes are commonly made. Use the tips below to avoid them.

Implementing the estate plan. Creating an estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney is step one. However, there are further tasks to be done. For example, if trusts are created, they must be funded. This may mean retitling accounts or moving assets. If trusts are not funded, they won’t perform as planned. In addition, your trusted loved ones should be told about the existence of an estate plan and where documents can be found when needed.

Don’t ignore your own mortality. People often wait until it’s too late to start planning, thinking they have a world of time. None of us knows when we will become incapacitated or die. Don’t delay.

Neglecting to create a trust. Having a trust created by an estate planning attorney can help avoid the costs and delays of probate. A trust can also ensure opportunities to provide specific assets to beneficiaries and could be a better way to distribute assets to children, especially if they are not financially responsible.

Failing to create a deadline-driven checklist for your estate plan. Most people simply do better when they have a checklist with deadlines. The tasks are clearly identified, and the date keeps most people focused. This is essential to have a secure estate plan and avoid missing crucial steps.

Leaving room for misinterpretation. Vague wording can sink your estate plan. Use complete, legal names when designating beneficiaries. If there are a number of people in the family with the same name, include their date of birth to avoid any confusion.

Forgetting to distribute personal property. Create a home inventory, and if any items are of high value, have them valued by a qualified professional appraiser. Family members often fight just as much over personal possessions as financial assets—don’t underestimate the emotional impact of sentimental value.

Getting it done! Don’t Make These Estate Planning Mistakes.  Most people don’t have a will, power of attorney, named guardians for minor children, health care power of attorney, living will and more because they fail to finish what they’ve started. Even smart people procrastinate over estate plans. The result is loved ones having to deal with taxes, legal fees, inaccessible assets and even family litigation. Contact an estate planning attorney and get this done sooner rather than later.

Reference: Kiplinger( Nov. 21, 2023) “Seven Big Mistakes People Make When It Comes to Estate Planning”