Ten Mistakes to Avoid When Estate Planning

August 10, 2021 Posted In Asset Protection,Estate Planning,Powers of Attorney,Probate, Estate, & Trust Administration
by Colorado Estate Matters

Planning your estate is an important undertaking, which is why you want to avoid making mistakes to prevent future hardships for your family after you are gone. Several common issues can easily occur if you do your estate planning haphazardly. The best way to properly undertake this important task is by hiring a Denver estate planning attorney to help you with your will and estate planning needs. An attorney can help you avoid these 10 top mistakes.

denver estate planning mistakes to avoid

Putting it Off

By putting off an estate plan, you can do harm to your family. No one knows when their time will come. It is best to be prepared early to avoid being caught without a plan. If you don’t have an estate plan in place when you pass away, your estate may incur unwanted taxes and put your assets into probate for a court to decide the outcome of your estate. Protecting your hard-earned assets and beloved family members means planning ahead, before it’s too late.

Doing it Yourself

It is critical to have your estate plan prepared by an attorney or another professional. While you may think that you are saving money by creating your own estate plan, failing to use the proper outlets for the preparation of your legal documents is a recipe for disaster that can ultimately cost your family thousands of dollars in mistakes and legal fees. 

Doing your estate planning yourself can open the plan up for contestation in the future, such as someone arguing the legal validity of a nonprofessional document. With so much at stake, don’t attempt this complicated legal process on your own. The best way to protect yourself, your family and the future of your estate is by trusting estate planning to a professional.

Failing to Identify Your Goals 

Every state plan is unique. Identify the goals that you have for your particular estate plan before you get started. This can allow you and your Denver wills and trust contests attorney to take actionable steps toward achieving your goals when creating a will and trust. It can also save you time and money on altering or updating your estate plan to include forgotten goals. For example, if one of your priorities is setting aside funding for a charity, identify this to your attorney outright so that he or she can create your estate plan correctly.

Going Into it Without Knowledge of the Law

Even the rich and famous rely on estate planners to ensure that a well-thought-out plan is executed. Unless you have a background in this area of law, it is important to hire a qualified attorney to help you navigate your state’s estate planning laws and requirements. As your estate planner, a lawyer will walk you through every aspect so that you know how to implement each and explain everything clearly to your beneficiaries. For your part, you should keep either a journal or take notes to remind yourself of your estate plan’s processes and basic areas.

Not Discussing Your Estate Plan With Family

Many people make the mistake of wanting to keep their estate planning secret from friends and family, perhaps out of a fear of creating a family feud or letting someone down. If possible, however, have at least a brief conversation with your loved ones. Having everyone on the same page now, while there is still an opportunity to make adjustments, as needed, can reduce the likelihood of arguments or contention after you pass away. If you cannot discuss your estate plan ahead of time, it is possible to include a provision where anyone who contests your estate plan can be written out.

Having Only One Beneficiary

It is important to assign more than one beneficiary to each of your assets. Identifying backup beneficiaries, known as contingent beneficiaries, can allow you to plan for any possible scenario, including if your designated beneficiary passes away before you do. Naming a primary as well as multiple contingent beneficiaries for each asset, account or policy can allow you to remain in control of who receives what, even if your primary beneficiary passes away.

Not Updating Your Beneficiaries

Revisit your estate plan occasionally to rectify it if something changes. In the event a family member passes away or leaves due to a divorce, for example, you should name new beneficiaries, as needed. Not staying on top of this can prove disastrous, as it could put the matter into the court’s hands if you pass away. Remember, it’s not just your will that this applies to, but life insurance, retirement accounts and other assets.

Not Updating Asset Ownership

Are the current owners/beneficiaries still the intended ones? Maybe something has happened to their situation and they are no longer able to fulfill the beneficiary role you had them in mind for. The wisest thing to do is revisit your estate plan every two years to make sure the intended asset owners are still accurate. This can help you avoid a mistake such as an estranged brother or sister still being named as a beneficiary on your car, house, trust or business when you die. 

Failing to Update Your Powers of Attorney

You’ll generally have two powers of attorney: a power of attorney for medical and one for financial dealings. It is important to keep your POAs up to date. For instance, let’s say you named one child as the financial power of attorney, but they’ve turned out to become less dependable in terms of trustworthiness or they just don’t have the organizational skills to handle the task before them. Typically, you’ll want to put a loving and caring family member in charge of your medical power of attorney, so that they can advocate for your health when you aren’t able to.

Leaving Out Final Arrangements

Your estate plan should include a detailed account of how you would like your funeral and burial to be arranged, as well as how you plan to pay for it (if applicable) to protect your loved ones from incurring this expense after you pass. This element can provide greater support and peace of mind for the loved ones that you leave behind. 

Make sure that your wishes for hospice or assisted living are documented in your end-of-life plan in the event that you become incapacitated. Then, put in writing what type of funeral, memorial, and burial or cremation that you want to ensure that your final wishes are respected and to alleviate stress for those who will be grieving your loss.

When to Hire a Denver Estate Planning Attorney

The best way to avoid these common estate-planning mistakes is by hiring an attorney. Every estate plan is different, which is why you need the assistance of the estate planning lawyer in Denver at Colorado Estate Matters, Ltd. to help you navigate the complexities and help make it all understandable. Our approach is simple. We start by looking at each of your assets and figuring out the best way to manage them for your future and legacy. Then, we customize our legal services to create an effective estate plan with your needs and goals in mind.

We can discuss your estate planning needs and different options during a consultation. To schedule this meeting, call us at (303) 741-2400 or email us using the contact form at the top of this page.  

From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Englewood, Centennial, Wheat Ridge, Golden and Arvada.

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