Common mistakes in estate planning

On Behalf of | May 30, 2022 | Estate Planning

Creating a will is an important document that determines the fate of your assets after your death. To ensure your wishes are met, and your beneficiaries can claim what you have designated for them, be sure to avoid these common mistakes when planning your estate:

Trying to do it yourself

Estate planning can be a somewhat complex subject. A small mistake in your documents can be detrimental to your heirs. For starters, the state has the power to determine what happens to your entire estate if the court finds your will to be invalid for any reason. 

Vague wishes for personal belongings

Asking your heirs to divide your personal belongings equally will always lead to disputes. Your beneficiaries will likely find differences in how something is valued, whether monetary or sentimental. Discuss specific items with your loved ones beforehand so you can designate assets and belongings for each person. 

Assigning co-executors

In most scenarios, all you need is a single executor and an alternate. Assigning multiple executors can lead to lengthy disputes, prolonging the disbursement of assets. Disagreements can occur over things like the valuation of property or even each person’s responsibilities in the probate process. Choosing one person to manage your estate eliminates the possibility of conflict. 

Failure to make updates

Always make changes to your estate plans and will after specific life events among your family members. For example, the death of a child or the birth of a grandchild will likely warrant an update. Even without major life changes, a good rule of thumb is to revisit your estate plan every three to five years.

Assuming you can avoid probate

Every valid will must go through probate. In some states, you will need a court to administer the will. There are designated fees associated with the probate process, typically a percentage of your estate value. During this process, a judge will oversee the disbursement of assets to your heirs, as well as the payment of any outstanding debts you may owe. 

Keeping your will and estate planning documents a secret

Ensure everyone knows you have a will and estate plan. It will also help to inform them of where they can find these documents after your passing. A will that can’t be found is considered non-existent. However, ensure these documents are kept in a safe place to avoid any kind of tampering.