While drafting a comprehensive estate plan might feel like an intimidating experience, it is wise for individuals to set aside time to ensure their end of life wishes are clearly explained and managed. It is an important first step to begin developing the estate plan, but there are common mistakes that might not seem obvious at first.
Here are four errors that can be easily avoided:
- Not planning for secondary beneficiaries: Many people might find it challenging to name the beneficiaries for their worldly possessions, but that shouldn’t be the end of the decision-making process. It is wise to at least name secondary beneficiaries for the more valuable assets to account for changing relationships or the death of a loved one.
- Forgetting to communicate with your executor: You should have a thorough discussion with who you have chosen as your executor well in advance of creating the estate plan. This is to both ensure that the individual understands your wishes and that you have chosen the right person.
- Forgetting to include digital assets: The estate plan will generally focus first and foremost on physical assets such as the house, cars or a prized book collection. While this is important, people should also remember to include their various online properties. Assets such as a downloaded movie collection, a digital storefront or online currencies must be included in the overall estate plan.
- Failing to revise the estate plan when necessary: Too many people believe an estate plan is a collection of one-and-done documents. Unfortunately, significant life events will necessitate revisions to one document or the estate plan in its entirety. Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or the death of a beneficiary should all result in estate plan revisions.
No matter your age, health or wealth, developing an estate plan should be at the top of the to-do list. Not only do you give yourself the power to decide who gets what when, you also get peace of mind knowing that you have carefully laid out your end of life wishes and taken care of those closest to you.
If the process seems overwhelming, an experienced estate planning attorney can provide the guidance you need from start to finish.