While just about everyone could benefit from having an estate plan, very few people do or even know where to start. The right estate plan will protect your assets and loved ones in the event of your death. However, any errors in your plan could leave your family in a mess after you’re gone. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when it comes to your estate plan:
1. Not having any plan in place
When it comes to estate planning, the most common mistake a person can make is not having a plan at all. Shockingly, only four in 10 U.S. adults have a will or estate planning document in place. No one wants to have to think about their end of life, but the fact of the matter is death will eventually come for all of us. Careful planning for what happens after you’re gone is one of the most crucial things you can do to ensure your personal and financial affairs are handled according to your last wishes.
2. Thinking you’re too young for an estate plan
A common misconception about estate planning is that you won’t need to worry about it until you’re older. On the contrary, you need an estate plan even if you are otherwise young and healthy. After all, no one is immune to unexpected accidents or illnesses. In addition to protecting your assets, if you have minor children, an estate plan can name a legal guardian for them should anything happen to you and your partner.
3. Choosing the wrong person to handle your estate
The role of an executor to an estate is a big undertaking, and sometimes the person you initially selected for the part is no longer the best option for you. For example, perhaps you named your child as executor of your will, but they have since moved away or had addiction problems. Carefully consider who would be the best suited to handle the extensive duties needed from an executor or trustee.
4. Not keeping your estate plan up to date
As your finances and life circumstances change, so should your estate plan documents to reflect your current needs. Getting married, divorced, having children, buying a house or the death of a beneficiary are all major life events that you will need to account for in your plans. Be sure to revisit your estate plan every few years with your attorney to ensure it fits your situation and make any necessary revisions.