Continuing with our previous post’s theme of common estate planning mistakes, here are three more pitfalls to avoid:
Not planning for a change in circumstances. What if a beneficiary gets a divorce, or goes through bankruptcy? What if your financial assets decrease and you have made large cash bequests and there are no funds remaining for your remaindermen? What if you want your estate to be divided equally between your children, and you leave one child the real estate and the other child with the bank accounts, but over the years, the values of your bank accounts have decreased, resulting in an unequal distribution at death. It is important to discuss changes in circumstances and other “what ifs” with your estate planning attorney.
Not communicating to a beneficiary or family member your change in plans. Communication is the key to all good estate plans. These conversations can be difficult, but letting a beneficiary know that you changed his or her share of your estate, or that you chose someone else to be your agent, Executor or Trustee, can avoid conflict down the road. With respect to estate planning, unless someone is receiving a windfall, we have found that most people do not like surprises.
Waiting until it is too late to plan. Waiting until you are disabled or until death to plan can result in a host of issues that most people want to avoid, including court involvement, the loss of choice, high costs and fees and conflict. Most especially, if you or any of your loved ones receive a diagnosis of a progressive disease, or of any cognitive decline, we recommend you consult an elder law attorney as soon as possible.