With so many common estate-planning mistakes, you have to watch out for these pitfalls:
- You can prepare your own will however, make sure your hire a professional that will ensure there are no misunderstandings about your wishes.
- Have your mental capacity verified before preparing your will, especially if you don’t trust your family members or have an unusual wish.
- Leave a copy of your will in a safety deposit box and with your lawyer so your executor can easily find it.
- Avoid the troubles that come with placing assets in joint names.
- Don’t forget to revisit legal papers as your life situation changes. Births, adoptions, deaths, graduations, and marriages together with changes in tax laws and employment or business situation can all impact one’s estate plan. Therefore, wills and trust documents need to be revised and updated periodically.
- Avoid naming the guardian of your children as the sole trustee.
- Don’t think that drawing up a will is all that is necessary. In addition to a will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living will and/or a declaration of guardian, an estate plan should include reviews of beneficiary designations of IRAs, qualified retirement plans, life insurance policies, bank signature cards, and the designation on joint tenancy with survivorship brokerage accounts which supersede what you might stipulate in your will.
- Not sharing information. Estate Planners often hear, “I guess I just didn’t know what we had.” This translates to serious problems during the administration of an estate and the management of the inheritance.