5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Estate
There are a few things in life that people don’t like to think about. Death is one of those things, but the truth is, everyone will pass away some day. What you leave behind can either be a burden for your family, or it can simplify the process of handling your final financial and personal affairs.
When it comes to planning our estates, far too many people are indifferent, or even worse, ignore the issue. Studies show that 52 percent of adult Americans don’t have a will, 40 percent of all parents haven’t discussed their estate planning needs with their family, and 28 percent say they aren’t sure what their parents’ final wishes are.
While it’s not an easy subject to talk about, it is an important step to take when preparing for the end of your life. Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when planning their estate.
- Not having a will and estate plan at all. One of the biggest mistakes is not having a plan at all. This is especially common among the younger population. Many people think they don’t have enough assets to justify a plan, but a lot of times that isn’t the case. Discussing your assets with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you decide when the right time is based on your situation. Having a will is important as well. If you don’t have a will, the state will decide where your personal and financial property ends up, as well as who is named guardian of your children if you have any.
- Failing to fund your trust. Many estate plans include a living trust. Assets that are owned by the trust are able to avoid probate, but the problem is that many estate owners skip an important step. After the trust is created, it has to be funded. This means that the legal titles to your assets must be transferred to the trust. For some assets that is a simple task, but for other, much more is required and to be sure you are doing it right, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney.
- Not updating your will or plan along the way. As your personal and financial circumstances change, you will need to update your estate plan. Changes such as a divorce, marriage, birth, health conditions, job loss, etc., all warrant a change in your estate plan.
- Keeping your estate plan a secret. Although you don’t need to broadcast your final plans to everyone, most estate planners will tell you to share your final wishes with your family and those who will be affected by your plan. It is a good idea to let them know where copies of your documents are as well, so they don’t struggle to find them when the time comes.
- Giving away too much too soon. Too often parents give away too much to their children or beneficiaries too soon. Sometimes giving a lump sum too early to a child will stifle their ambitions. Most trusts and estate plans have provisions to distribute assets to beneficiaries based on their age.
Hire an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
It’s clear that you don’t want to make these mistakes and leave your family and finances at risk. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you create an estate plan that will give you peace of mind and protect your family and your assets is worth the time and effort. Dedicated Tampa attorney David Toback has years of experience helping people create plans to be sure their final wishes are taken care of. Contact him today for a consultation.