Planning your estate may be one of the wisest decisions you can make. Not only does it decide where your assets go when you die, but it could also determine how you’re cared for if you’re in an accident or suffering from an illness.
Many people who make estate plans make a few common mistakes. Here’s what you should avoid:
Creating your own will
Many people are under the wrong assumption that wills are easy to make – they may be anything but easy, but that doesn’t stop some people, however. Some people will write out a will by hand without going into any legal aspects. Others may search for do-it-yourself programs that guide them through the will-making process, but these programs may lack key details, correct wordage and be full of errors.
Wills require a few key details: correct legal wording that shows what the intent of the document is for, two witness signatures, an executor and a power of attorney. Even one tiny mistake in a hand-made will could invalidate it and prevent your family from inheriting your estate.
Not updating your estate plans
Estate planning isn’t often done with the intent of you dying soon, but rather in the event of your death, which may not happen for several decades. Because of this, many people have wills and trusts sitting around with much-needed updates.
Some wills need to be updated after a spouse passes away or is divorced. You may need to update a will to include a guardian for your child. You may even need to reestablish what assets are distributed.
Naming the wrong executor and power of attorney
Most wills name an executor of an estate and a power of attorney (POA). These roles are often decided after much contemplation, but they may need to change. Some relationships fall apart or you may discover your executor or POA isn’t as reliable as you once thought.
If you’re planning your estate, you may need to make informed decisions with the help of legal guidance.