It’s no fun to think about, but we all need to plan for our assets after we pass away. As you prepare for your financial future, consider your estate plan as well. But avoid making these five common mistakes.
Placing a bit too much faith in your spouse. You might be surprised at the number of second spouses who completely cut off stepchildren after the death of their parent! If you want to ensure that your assets are appropriately divided amongst your children, don’t leave this decision up to your new spouse. Make your Will and other final decisions permanent and legal.
Forgetting to name beneficiaries. If you pass away without naming beneficiaries on financial accounts and life insurance policies, those assets will go through probate court for a period of months or even years after your death. To ensure that assets are distributed quickly upon your death, name the appropriate beneficiaries to each account (and consider backup beneficiaries in case of death or disability of the primary).
Failing to establish a trust. You might believe that a trust is only appropriate in very specific situations. But actually, a trust can serve as a great estate planning tool for just about anyone. Place assets in the trust while you’re still alive, and you can still control them. But once you pass away, everything in the trust will pass immediately to your beneficiaries, without the need for probate court.
Passing along a timeshare. One asset that you should not include in a trust is a timeshare. A lot of people don’t want the hassle and expense of a timeshare, and you could be passing along a burden rather than a gift. Leave the timeshare out of your estate plans and allow an heir to voluntarily assume it according to their own wishes.
Trying to do it yourself. You’ve probably heard tales of people who wrote down their final wishes just before passing. Not all of these stories go smoothly. In many cases, handwritten wills are challenged and even overturned in court. And you’d be surprised at how people behave when significant assets are at stake! If you want to ensure that your wishes are following, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Each situation is different, but all estate plans involve your money and other assets. So let’s discuss these issues at your next appointment, so that we can help you make the decisions that work best for you and your loved ones.