With my years of experience as a Personal Family Lawyer®, I have seen plenty of families left to sort things out for themselves because their parents either failed to plan their estate or turned to the siren song of the new, “do-it-yourself” estate planning websites in a misguided effort to save money.
Whatever money “saved” in free online forms is frequently overshadowed by the problems caused to those left behind by an estate plan riddled with obvious mistakes or simple inefficiencies. Professional guidance really makes a difference with estate planning.
That sort of advice ensures that the following 10 common estate planning mistakes don’t add to your family’s sorrows after you are gone.
10 common estate planning mistakes
- Failure to leave any written documentation of your assets, including a list of your online accounts and passwords (click here to read more about digital estate planning).
- Failure to let family members know where to find important estate planning documents.
- Failure to name a guardian for minor children or choosing a guardian who lives far away without planning for temporary, local guardianship (solved with a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®—for a basic guide on how to get started, visit twincitieskidsprotectionplan.com).
- Failure to name specific recipients for your family heirlooms.
- Failure to designate beneficiaries for retirement and other financial accounts.
- Failure to name secondary beneficiaries.
- Failure to name alternative trustees or executors.
- Failure to properly fund or title assets to any trusts you have established.
- Failure to update your estate plan as life circumstances change.
- Failure to create an estate plan of any kind and instead leaving it to the court system to decide how your assets will be distributed.
All these mistakes can be easily avoided, but only with some forethought and action. Estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming, especially when you have the guidance you need, but handling an estate that hasn’t been given any forethought is difficult and overwhelming for those family members left behind, even for those estates that would be characterized as simple or small.
If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid common estate planning mistakes that could cost your heirs dearly, call our office today at 612-206-3701 or reach out via our online contact form to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge.