For the average person, estate planning is somewhat intimidating. This should be easy enough to understand. After all, estate planning requires you to contemplate your own death for starters. In addition, the components of an estate plan are not things the average person deals with on a daily basis. All of this put together makes it fairly common for people to make mistakes when estate planning. To help you avoid making a mistake, the estate planning attorneys at Kulas & Crawford point out the top five estate planning mistakes so that you can avoid making them!
- Failing to get started. By far, the most common mistake people make when it comes to estate planning is not planning or waiting too long to get started. Along with feeling intimidated by the entire concept of estate planning, the other common reasons people fail to get started with an estate plan is that they believe they need to have a valuable estate first and/or need to reach a magic place in their life, such as marriage or parenthood. The truth though is that every adult can benefit from having at least a basic plan in place. Conversely, every adult can be at a distinct disadvantage by not having a plan in place in the event of an untimely accident or illness.
- Overlooking the possibility of incapacity. While the primary focus of your estate plan may be the distribution of your estate in the event of your death, a comprehensive estate plan should also plan for the possibility of your own incapacity. If you were to become incapacitated tomorrow as the result of a debilitating illness or tragic accident, who would take over control of your assets? Who would make personal and healthcare decisions for you? Unless you include incapacity planning in your estate plan, a judge may be making those decisions for you.
- Appointing the wrong fiduciaries. People frequently name a spouse, best friend, or family member to be the Executor of their estate and/or the Trustee of a trust based solely on the fact they trust the individual. While you certainly do need to trust your Executor and Trustee, it is also important to appoint someone who is actually suited to the position. The Executor of your estate will need to devote a decent amount of time to probating your estate during a time when he/she is also grieving your loss. A Trustee will need at least a basic understanding of applicable laws and financial strategies that are necessary to successfully administer the trust. Before appointing your Executor and/or Trustee, make sure you understand what the position entails and then choose the best person for the job.
- Going the DIY route in an effort to save time and money. Given the ease with which legal documents can be found online, it can be tempting to use them in an attempt to save both time and money. When it comes to estate planning, however, money you may save using DIY documents now will likely cost your loved considerably more when it comes time to actually use those documents. DIY Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents are frequently riddled with mistakes and errors that lead to costly litigation. Instead of putting your loved ones through that, work with an experienced estate planning attorney when you create your estate plan.
- Missing the “big picture.” Estate planning, when done correctly, accomplishes much more than just deciding what happens to your assets when you are gone. An estate plan should be comprehensive in nature, incorporating a number of inter-related goals and objectives into the plan, such as probate avoidance, Medicaid planning, and strategies for parents with minor children. In addition, your estate plan is not something you create and then forget about. On the contrary, estate planning is a lifelong project. Developing a good working relationship with your estate planning attorney is an important aspect of creating a successful estate plan as you will need to review and revise that plan often over the course of your life.
Contact Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding estate planning, contact an experienced Florida estate planning lawyer at Kulas & Crawford by calling (772) 398-0720 to schedule an appointment.