Our posts recently have been focused on the estates of deceased celebrities. It is worth noting that when celebrity estate planning makes news headlines, it is never because their estate plans were air-tight and that nothing was disputed. Rather, these are cautionary tales about why it is important to have up-to-date, clearly written estate plans in place.
Today, we'll discuss some common mistakes that people make when drafting an estate plan or considering one. Most experts would tell you that perhaps the biggest and most fundamental mistake in estate planning is thinking you don't need one. We all need an estate plan, regardless of age and personal wealth.
Next, it may be tempting to save money by filling out free or cheap legal forms online. But these one-size fits-all documents may not even reflect current state laws, much less your personal estate. With estate planning, the costs of doing it wrong tend to be far higher than paying more to do it right the first time.
If you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s and have already drafted an estate plan, good for you! That shows a lot of responsibility on your part. But make sure that you regularly review and update your estate plan as you experience changes over time (marriage, divorce, the birth of children, etc).
Finally, it's important to be as thorough as possible in each aspect of your estate plan. You may be focused on writing a will or setting up a trust, but don't forget about the documents that could be crucial later in your lifetime. These include durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney and a living will.
No one likes to contemplate their own mortality or spend time worrying about the "what-ifs" in life. Perhaps it will help to remember that estate planning is not just for you - it's also for the people you love most. If you're ready to get started, please seek the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.