A well thought out estate plan is one of the most important gifts you can give your loved ones, and yourself, over the course of your lifetime. Your estate plan can protect your estate assets and help them grow while you are alive and then ensure that those same assets continue to provide for loved ones after you are gone. To maximize the benefits of your estate plan, the estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP have created a list of the top five most common estate planning mistakes you should try to avoid. The best way to avoid these mistakes is to work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney.
- Not planning! Surveys tell us that despite understanding the importance of having an estate plan in place, over half of all Americans have yet to create a plan. One reason for this is the common misconception that you need to have amassed a fortune – or at least a modest estate – before you need an estate plan. The truth, however, is that every adult can benefit from having an estate plan in place. Another reason people offer for not yet creating an estate plan is the belief that you should wait until you are married, become a parent, or reach some other significant milestone before the need for an estate plan kicks in. In reality, all of those milestones may call for a review of your plan; however, you should already have a plan in place.
- Trying to use DIY forms in your estate plan. In today’s electronic age it can be very tempting to rely on fill-in-the-blank legal documents you find on the internet under the mistaken belief that doing so will save you time and money. More often than not, going the DIY route ends up costing loved ones considerably more time and money than you saved because those DIY forms are riddled with errors and omissions that lead to litigation during the probate process.
- Forgetting about the possibility of incapacity. While the primary focus of your estate plan may be the distribution of your estate in the event of your death, a comprehensive estate plan should also plan for the possibility of your own incapacity. If you were to become incapacitated tomorrow as the result of a debilitating illness or tragic accident, who would take over control of your assets? Who would make personal and healthcare decisions for you? Unless you include incapacity planning in your estate plan, a judge may be making those decisions for you.
- Choosing the wrong fiduciaries. Who you choose to appoint to fiduciary roles within your plan, such as Executor or Trustee, can determine the success or failure of your overall plan. People often appoint a spouse, friend, or family member without considering if the individual is actually the best choice for the position. Fiduciary roles typically come with a wide variety of duties and responsibilities, many of which require some degree of legal and/or financial knowledge. Simply trusting someone is not sufficient justification for appointing them to a fiduciary role. Make sure the person you appoint has the skills and experience to successfully fulfill the role.
- Failing to review and revise. Creating an estate plan is not something you ever truly finish. On the contrary, your estate plan is something that should constantly be evolving and growing as you, your family, and your estate grow. Your plan should be reviewed on a regular basis as well as when a life event calls for a review and revision. For example, if you get a divorce or a minor child reaches the age of majority, a review should occur immediately to make any necessary adjustments to your plan,
Contact Estate Planning Attorneys
For additional information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns regarding the creation of an estate plan in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced estate planning Attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.