When writing up an estate plan, we are often guided by insights about what to do, but not necessarily what not to do. Estate planning issues that go on uncorrected may eventually result in complications and frustrations for family members, such as the prolonged process of probate or a contested will. For this reason, we have listed a few fixable problems that may arise during your estate planning, that can help you avoid problems in the future:
- Plan ahead for the future, don’t put it off. We understand that the topic of death is not an easy one for many, and it can feel awkward to make plans for when you are no longer here. But, it is essential to your estate plan that you work through the discomfort, and make plans so that your legacy is passed onto those you care about the most.
- Don’t underestimate the impact of having an estate planning lawyer. You may want to try to tackle estate planning on your own, but it isn’t advisable. The reason for this is because a lawyer who knows about estate planning will be able to ensure that your documents are valid and that your best interests are protected. Without deep knowledge on the subject, it’s too easy to make mistakes that will cause problems later.
- Don’t forget to review and update estate plan documents regularly. As life changes, your relationships may change too. Marriages, changing friendships, birth and deaths, and changes in financial status are all events that may mean your estate planning documents need to be looked over and updated. If you have a lawyer who has been working with you on your estate plan, you can ask him or her to walk you through how to make a change.
- Don’t leave loved ones or appointees in the dark. You may want to talk with the people you have chosen to be your executor, beneficiary, power of attorney, or have some other role, about how your estate plan affects them. This can allow beneficiaries to ask questions if they need clarity, and can make sure those who have an official role agree to their responsibilities.
Completing your estate planning documents doesn’t have to be hard, but this may mean relying on a lawyer to guide you each step of the way. For assistance, consider speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible, similar to an estate planning lawyer.