One of the most valuable gifts you can give to your loved ones and to yourself is a well-drafted and comprehensive estate plan. Not only will it ensure that your wishes are honored at the end of your life and after you are gone, but it can also protect you, your assets, and your family while you are still here. To help ensure that you do not make common estate plan mistakes, a Loveland estate planning attorney at Zimmer Law Office explains some of those common estate plan mistakes.
Using DIY Estate Plan Documents
Given the ease with which legal documents can be found online, it can be tempting to use them to save both time and money. When it comes to estate planning, however, any time and money you may save using DIY documents now will likely cost your loved ones considerably more when it comes time to 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.
Putting Off the Creation of Your Estate Plan
Most people understand that having an estate plan in place is important; however, many of them procrastinate when it comes to creating that plan. 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
Overlooking the possibility of incapacity can be a fatal flaw within an estate plan. A Will allows you to dictate what will happen to your estate assets in the event of your death; however, the terms of your Will do not help in the event of your incapacity. If you are incapacitated, who will handle your finances and manage your assets? Who will make healthcare decisions for you and/or day-to-day decisions on your behalf? Without an incapacity plan, a judge may have to decide who steps into those roles.
Choosing the Wrong Fiduciaries
Choosing the wrong fiduciary is another common mistake. 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 their long-standing relationship with the individual. Instead, appoint someone who is suited to the position and who has the skills and/or experience to fulfill the role. The Executor of your estate will need to devote a decent amount of time to probate 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. Make sure you understand what the position entails and then choose the best person for the job.
Failing to Review and Revise Your Estate Plan
Having an out-of-date estate plan can be an even bigger problem than not having a plan at all in the event of your death or incapacity. Failing to update your plan could leave an ex-spouse in control of decision-making for you if you become incapacitated, hand a large sum of money to a beneficiary with addiction or mental health issues, or result in an endless list of other intended consequences. To prevent unwanted outcomes, be sure to update your estate plan on a regular.
Contact a Loveland Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, contact an experienced Loveland estate planning attorney at Zimmer Law Firm by calling 513-721-1513 to schedule your appointment today.