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Things To Avoid: Estate Planning Edition

Dec 21, 2023 | Estate Planning

Estate planning is a vital part of ensuring that your wishes are honored and your loved ones are taken care of in the event that you pass away or become incapacitated. 

Unfortunately, the steps of creating an estate plan, like drafting a proper will and trust, can be complex. The intricacies of the process can become overwhelming and cause you to make costly mistakes. 

In order to keep that from happening, we’ve drafted this blog that covers a few of the major things you need to avoid when it comes to estate planning; here are the top 6!

Procrastination And Delay

The worst thing you can do for yourself is procrastinate creating a thorough estate plan that clarifies your wishes. 

While the common misconception that estate planning is for the elderly or the rich deters many from making one, estate planning is for anyone who owns something of value or has minor children. This process determines how your money and possessions will be distributed to beneficiaries upon your death or incapacitation, and also designates legal guardians for minor children, if you have them. 

While no one enjoys planning for a future they won’t be a part of, it’s critical that you do, otherwise the state of Georgia will do it for you, and everything that matters most to you could end up in the wrong hands. 

You may be thinking that you’re too young, or too healthy to concern yourself with something as serious as estate planning, but the truth is that we aren’t promised tomorrow. Unforeseen circumstances can compromise your well-being, and without a proper plan in place, you could leave your loved ones in financial despair.

If uncertainty of the next steps is what’s holding you back, it’s important to enlist the help of a skilled estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process. 

Incomplete Or Outdated Documents

If you have started the estate planning process, you need to avoid having incomplete or outdated documents. An incomplete or outdated estate plan, much like no plan at all, can have significant implications on the distribution of your assets and well-being of your loved ones at your time of death. In order to keep up with your plan, you need to check regularly that it reflects your wishes both presently and for the future. 

If you’ve named a beneficiary or heir who may have passed before you, a spouse who you recently divorced, a child who you feel wouldn’t handle your assets appropriately, or simply someone who is no longer a part of your life, you need to properly remove these designations as you see fit to prevent your assets from ending up in the possession of someone you didn’t intend for it to. 

Other reasons you may need to update your estate plan are significant life events including but not limited to the following:

  • Marriage
  • Birth of a child
  • Birth of a grandchild or great grandchild
  • Change in you or your spouse’s financial circumstances
  • Large increases or decreases in the value of your assets
  • Purchasing a home or large asset
  • Major career change
  • And more!

Choosing The Wrong Executor Or Trustee

Another thing you should avoid doing on your estate planning journey is choosing the wrong executor or trustee. An executor’s job is to carry out your last will and testament (a document that clarifies your final wishes). A trustee is the person responsible for managing your trust and distributing trust assets to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. It’s imperative that you choose someone you trust to fulfill one or both of these roles. 

Many people make the mistake of choosing someone based on their relationship with them, not their ability to handle the tasks that come along with both of these substantial titles. You need to designate someone who will meet deadlines, file the appropriate forms, and distribute your hard-earned assets to the proper heirs. You should also consider whether or not this person has strong communication skills and problem solving capabilities in case conflict like familial disputes or probate arises.

It’s necessary to have open and honest conversations with whomever you intend to name as your executor and/or trustee. Ensure that they understand the duties they’ll be required to fulfill and that they are willing to commit to the role. You should also consider an alternate executor and trustee in case your first choice is unable to fulfill these duties when the time comes. 

Neglecting Digital Assets

In addition to your traditional assets like your home, vehicles and treasured personal belongings, you should also take your digital assets into consideration. Digital assets are defined as anything that is created and stored digitally. As technology has evolved, so has the way we accumulate and store digital assets. 

From digital photos and documents to investments and subscriptions, planning for your intangible assets is a key aspect of estate planning which can prevent your family from being left with confusion and uncertainty of your intentions for these important pieces of your life. 

Overlooking Beneficiary Designations

Since the primary purpose of creating an estate plan is to safeguard your assets and prevent your loved ones from ending up in financial jeopardy when you’re no longer here, it’s vital that you actually designate beneficiaries for the assets you intend to leave behind. When it comes to beneficiary designations, you can…

  • Name multiple beneficiaries
  • Name almost anyone, including family, friends, charities, entities, etc…
  • Add or remove beneficiaries as you see fit
  • And more!

Neglecting To Consult With Professionals

If you’re considering your options for estate planning, do not neglect enlisting the help of a seasoned professional. Working with an estate planning attorney can make the difference between a well-executed plan that shields your assets and family from financial risk, and the pitfalls that this intricate legal process can possess. 

While it may be tempting to take advantage of free online estate planning templates, this can lead to costly mistakes. Often, these digital tools lack the language required to make the documents legally compliant. They also cannot understand your unique needs the way that an attorney can. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you craft an estate plan that accomplishes your goals while ensuring you remain legally compliant.  

How Equal Justice Law Group Can Help

If you haven’t created an estate plan, there is no greater time than the present. The estate planning attorneys at Equal Justice Law Group can explain your legal options and advise you on what types of wills, trusts, and other legal tools will best fulfill your needs and protect your assets and loved ones. Call today to schedule a free consultation. 

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