Many people don’t give estate planning the serious consideration it deserves. Most folks think it involves little more than deciding who gets what after they’re gone. The fact is, a comprehensive estate plan should take a holistic approach, one that can benefit you in the present as well as provide for your family’s future.
The following are three common estate planning mistakes. You should always discuss your estate planning goals with a skilled legal professional.
1. Ignoring estate planning altogether
People may choose to avoid estate planning for many reasons. Perhaps they are uncomfortable thinking about their mortality. Maybe they feel like they don’t have enough assets to make estate planning worthwhile. Whatever the reason may be, you should know that estate planning provides benefits for people from all walks of life.
A proper estate plan should be about more than simply distributing your assets. You can provide clear directions for your healthcare should you ever be in a situation where you’re incapable of making your wishes known. You can name a trusted individual to care for your children should the unthinkable ever happen. Shifting your focus from estate planning as an asset distribution system to a type of insurance policy can help you see the bigger picture.
2. Relying on a “canned” form
The internet has helped people take on all manner of do-it-yourself projects, for better and for worse. But painting a room in your house and doing your own legal work are two very different things. Your estate plan should be as unique as you are. A pre-printed form isn’t going to capture the fine details of your situation.
Frequently, what little money is saved from relying on a “canned” form is wiped out because it’s not legally sound. You should always discuss your options with an attorney who can help tailor a plan that is designed to suit your needs.
3. Never looking back
An estate plan is a “living” document. Don’t put together a plan and then file it away for decades. Your family may be in for a rude surprise if they find you’ve left all of your assets to a person you divorced 30 years ago.
Review your estate plan every few years. Your wishes regarding healthcare decisions can change. Your family makeup will also change as time progresses. Making occasional updates to your plan is essential to ensuring your preferences will be honored as you see fit.