3 Common Mistakes About Estate Planning

 

I know nobody likes thinking about death.  I like to say that a majority of my law practice deals with two things that people don’t want to talk about – death and taxes.

 

But, much like car accidents, we can’t predict natural disasters like the coronavirus.  However, by taking action now, you can provide your loved ones with a roadmap for caring for you should you get sick or managing your affairs should the worst happen.

 

While I don’t encourage people to wait around for a disaster to strike to update their estate plan, here are the three major mistakes about estate planning that I’ve experienced in my many years of legal practice that I recommend everyone to consider.

 

Mistake #1 – Not Setting Up an Estate Plan at All.

 

Again, nobody likes to think about death.  But until the time medical science allows us to “cheat death”, it will happen.

 

Now, some people may take the position that “Hey, if I die, I’m dead so why should I care as it’s not my problem anymore”.  Not only is that a selfish point of view, it creates more problems for those family members they leave behind.

 

The point of an estate plan is to provide guidance for your loved ones on how you want your personal and financial affairs handled if something unfortunate does happen to you.

 

I like to think of creating an estate plan as a gift you are giving to those you care about.  By laying out everything in a well-thought-out plan, you are providing your family with certainty when everything now is uncertain.  So I recommend that if you do not have an estate plan, take control now and give the gift of certainty.

 

Mistake #2 – Not Updating Your Estate Plan.

 

If you do have an estate plan, I don’t recommend waiting for a natural disaster to hit to think about making changes to your Last Will and Testament, Revocable Living Trust or Powers of Attorney, although we at NorthStar Law Group are willing to assist now if changes need to be made immediately.

 

Rather, I recommend a review of an estate plan every two years for any changes to the law or if there have been major life-altering events, such as a death in the family, an illness, a birth or a divorce.

 

We provide a free estate planning review for our clients.  And, with the advances in technology, most changes to an estate plan are relatively inexpensive so cost should not be a factor.

 

Mistake #3 – Not Talking with the People You Appoint as Your Fiduciaries About Your Wishes. 

As much as people don’t like to think about death, people don’t like talking about it with others.  It’s hard discussing major things like an estate plan, money and medical wishes with the people you love.  However, if they don’t know what you want, how are they to know what to do when the unfortunate happens?

 

If you trust your family or friends enough to have named them to act on your behalf, you should be able to have this conversation with them.  Open communication is the key to a good plan.  We would be more than happy to assist you when having that discussion with your loved ones.