Whether you have had an estate plan in place for some time or you’ve never crafted one, it’s important to understand the common estate planning missteps that too many American adults make so that you can avoid making these mistakes yourself.
The first and most important misstep you can make is simply not creating an estate plan in the first place. It has been widely reported that only one-third of American adults have an estate plan in place. If you don’t want the state determining where your assets go after you die and who can make decisions on your behalf in the event of an incapacitating injury, it’s time to start estate planning.
The second – and similar – most important misstep you can make is to not update your estate plan, whenever necessary, once it is in place. Estate plans are living documents that are meant to be updated as the creator’s needs, preferences and life circumstances change. If you never update your estate plan, you’ll risk having outdated wishes enforced by the court or having the court reject your old estate plan as wholly invalid.
Being thoughtful and proactive is key
The missteps that lead to challenges and stress regarding someone’s estate usually stem from a failure to be thoughtful and proactive about the ways in which an estate plan is structured. It is partially for this reason that you’ll want to steer clear of “DIY” estate planning approaches.
By seeking legal guidance during the estate planning and update processes, you’ll better ensure that your documents are enforceable, meet the state’s unique legal standards and truly reflect your goals and wishes for the outcome of the process now and into the future.