Estate planning has reached an art form over the last few decades. It has also become even more important than it once was. Although each estate plan will include different estate planning tools and will include different goals, there are some common mistakes that all estate plans should try to avoid.
Without a doubt, the biggest, and most common, mistake that people make is to either not create an estate plan at all or to create one and then forget to update the plan. Life changes often require a revision of your estate plan to incorporate the change. Don’t just create your plan and leave it alone. Be sure to take the time to revisit your plan on a regular basis to make any required changes.
Another big mistake people make is going the “do-it-yourself” route. There are some legal issues that can be handled without the help of an attorney, such as a small claims case, but your estate plan is not one of them. Given what is at stake, don’t trust the future of your estate to out of date forms or kits that don’t take into account state specific requirements.
Letting your emotions dictate your decisions is the final common mistake people make. For example, don’t appoint your child as trustee of a large trust if he or she does not have the experience to handle the position. Likewise, don’t feel that you have to give each child the exact same bequest if that is not in their best interest or the best interest of your estate plan. Be fair, but don’t let your emotions over rule your intellect.