If you want to ensure that your estate plan properly protects and provides for your heirs, it is essential that you thoroughly plan ahead.
To make sure it’s “smooth sailing”, here are some important estate planning mistakes to avoid.
- Failure to plan. Without a thorough estate plan, you’re risking the financial future of your estate and your loved ones.
- Not reviewing your documents. It is essential to make sure they’re exactly as you want them and also not out of date.
- Not discussing your plans with family. Sometimes even a brief conversation can shed some light on which of your wishes are likely to be controversial, giving you a chance to rethink certain plans.
- Don’t name just one beneficiary. Just in case your only heir dies before you, you’ll want to have a contingent beneficiary. According to Ohio State Law, here is the designation or qualification of a beneficiary.
- Don’t forget that your retirement plan accounts or life insurance can’t be included in Wills or Trusts. You’ll need a beneficiary designation form to name a revocable trust as the beneficiary.
- Don’t forget about a power of attorney or health care representatives. These professionals step in to make decisions if you become incapacitated. Typically, the roles dissolve on your death.
- Lack of a funeral plan. Lack of communication for your funeral plans places an extra burden on your already grieving family. Be sure to give some indication of what you’d like to happen at your funeral or with your burial arrangements. Let them know what they can do to honor you.
- Failure to include your digital assets. Include a digital estate plan that specifies how you want all your digital assets (i.e. social media accounts, online banking, email, etc.) handled upon your death, and name a digital executor to get it done.
- Not planning for all contingencies. A will often leave an estate to the testator’s “surviving children”, but that raises questions if one of the testator’s children dies. Does the money go to that child’s heirs or is it split among the survivors? Unthinkable as it may seem, your Will should plan for those possibilities.
- Failure to fund your trust. Simply put, a trust is useless unless it’s funded with your assets.
- Don’t forget about taxes. Understand the limits of potential state estate taxes or inheritance taxes before you write your Will or trust.
- Failure to properly store your estate plan. Even a perfect estate plan is absolutely useless if no one knows where to find it. Safes and safety deposit boxes are popular options, but it is vital to tell someone that it’s there and how to access it.
Get a qualified Estate Planning Attorney.
Help your family save money in unnecessary taxes and probate fees by sidestepping errors. By including an estate planning attorney such as Charles Bendig, you’ll have help in drafting your plan and making any changes you want to essentially carry out your wishes as you see fit.