When you cannot speak for yourself, a good estate plan can help you express your wishes for the end of your life and ensure your assets are distributed to your loved ones accordingly. However, common mistakes might imperil your estate plans and make it more difficult for your loved ones to settle them. Here are five mistakes to avoid and keep top of mind when planning your estate.
1. Trying to DIY (do-it-yourself) an estate plan
Your life is unique. Your estate plan should consider your life’s particular circumstances and objectives. Not having an estate planning attorney draft your estate plan in a way that is carefully tailored to your one-of-a-kind life can mean the difference between a legally valid plan or a plan that might as well be nonexistent. What’s more, online DIY estate planning forms tend to be simplistic and may not meet the formalities required by law (which vary by state!). Poor estate planning can result in loved ones being mistakenly left out of inheritances, paying hefty tax bills without having to, and subjecting families to costly, stressful legal disputes.
2.) Not taking inventory of your property
Too frequently, finding records and finances is a burden placed on the heirs. It is best to preserve copies of important papers, latest bank statements, information on safe deposit boxes, etc., in a notebook and let your dependable heirs know what’s inside. You can start this process by simply taking an inventory of your assets. You can keep separate lists of categories such as tangible property, financial and digital assets, debts and liabilities, and real estate. Furthermore, important life documents, account information, and where these items are stored should be made known to your fiduciaries.
3.) Not updating your estate plan
Your estate plan should be viewed as a living document that changes alongside outside circumstances (such as tax laws, inheritance laws, and life changes). While your estate planning attorney will know about tax and inheritance laws changes, it is up to the client to update their attorney on major life changes. Changes in your priorities or life circumstances are good indicators that a review of your estate plan is in order (divorce, death, residence, real estate, marriage, etc.).
4.) A lack of communication with loved ones
If you’re like most people, discussing your demise and the transfer of your assets when you pass makes you uncomfortable. However, the last thing you want is to create an estate plan just for your loved ones to be unprepared when it is time to execute your wishes. When you communicate openly with your loved ones about your estate plan, you’re also allowing them to voice their concerns and objections, which would otherwise become heard after your passing when it is too late to address them.
5.) Not accounting for the possibility of long-term care costs
When you plan now on how you want to handle long-term care costs, you are allowing yourself to protect your assets from expensive long-term care depletion. Unfortunately, the high cost of long-term care can easily eat away at the assets you have worked for all these years. What’s more, the longer you wait to act in anticipation of these costs, the fewer options you will have to protect your assets. Whether through long-term care insurance or establishing an irrevocable trust, an experienced estate planning attorney can guide you through myriad ways to plan for your future.
Commission the Help of Estate Planning Attorneys
When you succeed, we succeed. Run by large firm talent while offering the agility and personal attention of a boutique firm, Beress & Zalkind LLC has a proven record of both excellence and expertise. So when you’re ready to discuss your estate plan, contact us by calling (718) 513-3588 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Our attorneys are licensed in New York, New Jersey and Florida.