Estate planning is an essential tool for making sure that you, your loved ones, and your assets are protected now and in the future, and for securing a legacy that will be proud to leave behind. Of course, planning for your future is a complicated process with many potential pitfalls that can throw you off course and threaten your family’s financial security. Being aware of common estate planning mistakes—and knowing how to avoid them—is essential to protecting yourself from the uncertainties that lie ahead. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you sidestep these potential pitfalls and put your mind at ease.

Preparing for Estate Planning

Estate planning can be a daunting process, which is why so many people commit the first estate planning mistake: procrastination. Whether it’s because you’re too busy, feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of planning for your own death, or for any other number of reasons, a lot of people put off estate planning until—sadly—it’s too late. You never know what the future holds, and if you pass away without a will or trust, or if you become incapacitated without the proper documents in place, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. Preparing for estate planning starts with gathering your financial documents and contacting an experienced estate planning lawyer. It’s easy to get started, and the right attorney will make the estate planning process feel more approachable than you ever imagined.

Other Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Once you begin drafting your estate plan, there are a number of potential mistakes to look out for. Here are a few of the most common:

        • Not Drafting All the Documents You Need. Estate planning involves many steps, and it can be easy to overlook some of the most important documents. Most people know about wills and trusts, but there are several other essential documents that every adult needs—no matter how young, old, rich, or poor they are! A durable power of attorney, an advanced healthcare directive, HIPAA authorization, a living will…these are just a few of the documents you may want to include in your plan.
        • Not Coordinating Your Beneficiary Designations. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other similar assets give you the opportunity to name a beneficiary who will receive ownership of the account as soon as you pass away. Failing to name beneficiaries—or naming one beneficiary on your account, and a different beneficiary in your will—can lead to exhausting probate battles, family discord, and resentment. Remember, a beneficiary designation supersedes whatever it says in your will, so it’s essential to keep these documents up-to-date and coordinated.
        • Appointing the Wrong Executor. The executor of your estate (or your trustee, if you are using a trust-based estate plan) fulfills a very important role. The executor is responsible for ensuring that all your assets reach their intended beneficiaries, and that your legacy is complete. It’s essential that you pick a trusted individual for this task, or you’re putting your final wishes at risk.
        • Not Keeping Your Plan Up to Date. Families change, as do the relationships you have with the people in your life. It’s important to update your estate plan whenever a major life event happens, or simply to look over your plan annually to make sure it’s in order. You would hate to leave out a new grandchild simply because you forgot to update your plan. Likewise, you would hate for your ex-husband to inherit your assets because you forgot to take him out of your will!
        • Not Informing Your Beneficiaries. If you intend to leave your assets to a family member, friend, or loved one—or if you plan on involving them in your estate plan in any way—it’s important that you let them know. Making your wishes known ahead of time is the best way to avoid any unpleasant difficulties when the time comes to carry out your estate plan.
        • Estate Planning on Your Own. Estate planning is highly nuanced, and the process is rife with the potential for high-consequence mistakes. Because of that, one of the worst mistakes you can make is trying to do it by yourself. Estate planning lawyers are intimately familiar with every aspect of the estate planning process, and by working with a reputable, qualified attorney, you can avoid the many potential pitfalls in the estate planning process.

Contact Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia

Estate planning can be a complicated process, but working with a trained professional can significantly ease the burden. When you’re ready to start planning for your future, the experienced attorneys at the Estate Planning Law Group of Georgia are here to help. Contact us today and put your mind at ease.