No matter your age, health or wealth, you should consider developing a comprehensive estate plan. This group of documents will establish the distribution of your assets and clearly specify your end-of-life decisions. Without these documents in place, your surviving loved ones could struggle through unnecessary arguments and costly delays.
Taking the time to craft these documents can also help individuals avoid pressure, reduce stress and eliminate mistakes. While every situation is unique, individuals can avoid certain common mistakes, including:
- Failing to update the plan after a significant life event: Individuals must review and revise the estate plan after every significant life event. These events could include a change in marital status, the birth of a child, starting a business or purchasing property. No matter the event, it is wise to ensure the estate plan reflects the current situation.
- Failing to include secondary beneficiaries: When individuals craft a will, they often simply list primary beneficiaries. If the named beneficiary dies or refuses the inheritance, the distribution automatically moves to the secondary beneficiary – if included – with no delay or dispute.
- Failing to update the plan if you move: It is wise to discuss a move with an experienced legal professional. It is not uncommon for different states to have different rules and regulations regarding estate plans, the probate process and asset distribution.
- Failing to understand how the documents work together: Many individuals are content with drafting a will and ending the estate planning process. Unfortunately, there are numerous other documents including trusts, powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives. Individuals can use the full range of documents to describe the entirety of their wishes.
A strong, effective estate plan provides peace of mind for the testator. Additionally, it can reduce or eliminate any unnecessary bickering and heated emotional disputes between surviving loved ones after you pass away.