Estate planning mistakes and misconceptions
mistakes and misconceptions

Estate planning mistakes and misconceptions

  • Waiting until you are ‘old enough’

Some people think estate planning as all about the disbursement of assets after death, and so wait until they are ready to die. But the fact is that as disheartening as it is to think about, anything can happen at any time. It may not be death but incapacitation whereby you are no longer able to manage affairs yourself. If you had put plans in place by drafting a power of attorney or living trust, then your trusted and appointed agent will step in to manage your affairs. But if you had not done so, then getting you a guardian may take some time.

  • Doing it on your own

While you may want to save money by drafting your estate plan yourself, it can be disastrous in the long run. A single mistake or omission can get your estate crumbling like a sand castle. Ambiguity in your will can lead to litigation and Will Contest during probate. It is important seeking guidance from an estate planning attorney to help draft your documents so that they say in clear and concise terms exactly what you want them to say.

  • What could go wrong with a ‘do it yourself’ estate plan?

It could be tempting and perhaps less expensive to make estate plans all by yourself. The dangers lies in not creating the proper plans which would be fit to stand in New York. While it may not be bad engaging in steps involved in planning your estate, it is a bad idea to go do it all yourself without involving an estate planning attorney near you.

  • Not updating your estate plan from time to time

There is a need to review your estate plan periodically to see if it conforms to your current goals and estate situation. This is because as a person lives on, significant changes happen to them both personally and financially that would require a change to the estate plan they created years ago. For example, new marriage, new births, new acquired or lost assets, death of your executor or spouse, or even divorce may effect a consequent change to your will. This is because you would need to include the new assets and children in your will, or remove the divorcee and late executor. Ignoring all these changes will put your loved ones in confusion when you pass away.

  • Putting the wrong assets in the wrong place

Not all assets should go into a will, and not all assets should go into a living trust. For example, retirement accounts and life insurance with beneficiary designations as well as jointly-owned properties must be kept out of a will. Irrevocable trusts may be used for asset protection and tax avoidance but it is detrimental to place your frequently used assets into an irrevocable trust since you would no longer be able to use them forever.

  • Not opening up to your attorney

Some people make the mistake of not consulting with an estate planning attorney at all but when you do, try to be open to them. Let your attorney understand your personal situation and heartfelt wishes, because their advice and recommendations will be based on whatever you tell them. Always remember that your attorney has your best interests at heart.

  • Dying without a will

It is worse when death unexpectedly comes before you think it necessary to write a will. Then, you would be said to have died ‘intestate’. When a person dies intestate, it means there is no valid will to show the person’s intentions for their assets and how they would have wished them distributed. The state then has to decide for you by New York Law of Intestate Succession where only your surviving spouse and children may inherit apportioned amounts. But there is bound to be family squabbles as they can’t figure out exactly what asset actually should go to whom.

While wills are now downloadable online, be aware that estate planning is not one-size-fits-all. There may be a need to customize your will to suit your estate goals without compromising the validity of your document, and it becomes imperative you seek help from an experienced estate planning lawyer near you.

Contact us today

If you live around East Rockaway, NY 11518 and need an estate planning attorney near you, simply call our law office today for a consultation.