From trusts and wills to probate avoidance, having an estate plan in place can be beneficial to your heirs and beneficiaries in the event of your passing. Not having an estate plan is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, but, you can give yourself peace of mind by knowing how to avoid these all-too-common estate planning blunders.
While you understand the benefits of having an estate plan in place, procrastination could leave you scrambling to get an estate plan in order at the eleventh hour. Should you become ill or not able to make decisions due to incapacitation, you and your family may have financial obstacles to overcome. Having a well-thought-out estate plan that will guide your loved ones on how to handle your affairs while you are alive or after your passing can make all the difference. Don't’ put off your estate plan any longer. Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney today so you and your family can have peace of mind.
Failure to Update Documents
Having an estate plan doesn’t mean “set it and forget it.” Family dynamics, as well as any businesses you own, can go through many changes over the years. It’s important to go through all your estate plan documents every so often to ensure you have the proper beneficiaries listed on each of the following:
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Existing trusts or wills
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts that are sponsored by an employer
- 401(K) plans
- Health savings accounts (HSA)
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA)
Not Avoiding Probate
Probate is the legal process in which the personal affairs of a deceased person are settled. The intention of probate is to substantiate the validity of a person’s will or organize how issues with the estate of the deceased are to be resolved. For those who already have a will in place before passing, the probate court will review the validity of the person’s last will and testament.
If someone dies without a will, a probate court will appoint an estate administrator (a person to resolve pertinent legal and financial issues of the estate) as well as make the determination of who the decedent's legal heirs are. While in some instances, probate may be necessary, avoiding probate can ward off a host of issues that could complicate the entire process.
- Create a living trust in which your future assets are placed in a trust that is overseen by a trustee. The trustee will be expected to carry out the directives of your trust in the event of your passing.
- Designate your financial accounts as “payable on death.” Most financial institutions give account holders the option of “payable on death or “transfer of death” to the beneficiary of your choosing.
- Establish joint tenancy by identifying someone (such as your spouse) as the co-owner of certain property such as your vehicle or home.
Failure to Create a Healthcare Proxy
Should you become gravely ill or injured, having a healthcare proxy to designate what your wishes are should you need care, can relieve many stresses for you and your family. Speak to your loved ones about your healthcare wishes and determine who you’d like to carry them out, should you face medical difficulties in the future. Having a healthcare proxy in place will include documentation that outlines your medical preferences, who is permitted to access your medical records as well as power of attorney.
Devising Your Estate Plan on Your Own
Estate planning can be an arduous task and not knowing the intricacies of estate law can leave vulnerabilities in your plan. Enlisting the help of an estate attorney can make the process go smoother. An experienced estate planning attorney can help with the following:
- International estate planning
- Probate avoidance
- Elder estate planning (i.e., guardianship, Medicaid planning, and medical care planning).
Estate planning can offer you and your loved ones many options in protecting your assets. From wills and living trusts to elder estate planning and avoiding probate, our team of experienced and highly-skilled estate planning attorneys can help. Call Auten & Willingham, P.C. today at (214) 643-8757 to learn more about how we can assist you with all your estate planning needs.