In life, it’s easy to make a mistake. Estate planning is one of the most important things you can do in life. It should be taken very seriously in order to avoid hassles or other delays that can come when you probate your will and begin transferring assets to family and friends. With the correct planning, most people are able to avoid the costly mistakes that can lead to a prolonged and painful probate battle.
One of the most common estate planning mistakes you can make is adding a friend or young family member’s name to a joint account. You may think that it will make it easier to transfer assets or even pay final expenses. Often that isn’t true. It can cause confusion about your intentions once you pass and can complicate the probate process. It could also open you up to potential unscrupulous conduct by those you put on your account. The better alternative would be to give a trusted person a power of attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to.
Another common mistake is not updating beneficiaries. By having the wrong beneficiaries listed on bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement accounts you can prevent your assets from being transferred to your intended beneficiaries. Often, individuals will create a single will and never bother with updating it when major life events happen like having children or grandchildren, divorcing or remarrying or the death of a loved one. If you don’t update your will when these types of things happen your estate could essentially become intestate and you could be setting your heir up for a legal fight or a situation where the state itself decides what happens to your assets.
Out of all the mistakes listed above, the biggest mistake is having no plan at all. Yes, there are legal mechanisms that will provide for your surviving spouse and your children and grandchildren but the state can’t possibly understand all your wishes and what you wanted may ultimately not happen. Estate planning is essential to your piece of mind and also to those family members and friends who will survive you. If your estate plan is lacking, contact the caring and competent attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today for a free consultation about what your estate planning options are.