In today’s “do it yourself” climate people often ask whether an attorney is really necessary to create a basic estate plan. After all, basic estate planning documents can often be found online or at the local stationary supply store. Why do you need an attorney? The answer is simple, to avoid making the most common estate planning mistakes. Even a seemingly minor mistake in one part of your plan can lead to catastrophic failure of the entire plan. Consider some of the most common estate planning mistakes people make, as well as how having an experienced estate planning attorney can help you avoid them.
• Using outdated, incomplete, or incorrect forms. Ask yourself if you would feel secure relying on a form you downloaded off the internet or purchased at Office Depot to facilitate the sale of your home, or to cover the terms of your retirement plan. The answer should be “no.” “DIY” or “fill-in-the-blank” forms commonly contain mistakes of law, outdated or stale language, and/or omit important provisions or language.
• Failing to create a comprehensive plan. A successful estate plan should accomplish far more than simply deciding who will receive your estate assets when you die. A comprehensive plan, for example, might also incorporate related topics into your overall plan, such as incapacity planning and retirement planning.
• Not updating the plan. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is only the beginning when it comes to ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your assets are protected both now and in the future. That plan should be reviewed every few years as a matter of course as well as revised any time an important life events dictates the need for an update.
• Appointing the wrong person to an important position. Absent guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney, most people make the mistake of appointing people to positions within the plan, such as Executor or Trustee, without giving the appointment the consideration it deserves. Appointments or nominations are made on the basis of emotional ties or a sense of obligation instead of an evaluation of the person’s credentials and ability to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the position. Your choice of Executor or Trustee, however, can have a direct and powerful bearing on the success or failure of your entire estate plan.
• Allowing emotions to guide decisions. While estate planning can be an emotional endeavor, allowing your emotions to rule the decision making process during the planning stage can have considerable negative consequences.
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating or updating your Illinois estate plan in general, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.