3 Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Everyone has a Bucket List These Days

Everyone has a bucket list these days. It’s exhilarating to plan memorable, monumental activities to do before you ‘kick the bucket’. Of course, few Californians actually put estate planning on their bucket list: where’s the fun in that?!

Estate planning may bring up feelings of dread and anxiety; it can be uncomfortable discussing sensitive topics like death and money with family members. So, you procrastinate. However you feel about death, your family’s welfare is your priority and, inevitably, all of us will kick that proverbial bucket.

Estate planning is a comprehensive legal strategy arranging not only for the transfer of your assets, but also ensure that your medical preferences are fulfilled when you are unable to dictate them, nominations of conservator and guardians, and more. Well-done estate planning can lift a weight off of your shoulders.

Here are three common estate planning mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

1. You Forget to Make Provisions for Incapacitation

One common estate planning mistake is failing to make provisions for incapacitation. Incapacity comes in many forms. Because incapacity may result from a variety of causes including traumatic events or debilitating conditions, it may occur at any age. So, it is never too early to consider taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you overlook this aspect, the court may appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. Don’t let that happen.

Include important documents like a durable power of attorney, a healthcare proxy, and living will in your estate plan. By doing so, you can designate trusted individuals to act on your behalf during incapacitation, ensuring that your wishes are respected. Don’t leave these decisions up to chance or potential family conflicts.

2. You Think You’re Too Young for Long Term Planning

Estate planning may not even cross your mind when you’re bringing new lives into the world. While you’re watching your child take his first steps or spending every waking minute chauffeuring teenagers to activities, the daunting tasks of estate planning and guardianship may not be on your radar. After all, planning for death seems like an activity designated for someone much older than yourself.

Sadly, accidents and terminal illness have no age limits. Therefore, it’s imperative that you plan and put into place legal documents to protect your family. This may include designating guardians for minor children, transferring assets to ensure that your family have the means to afford necessities and maintain their lifestyle, and outlining your medical preferences.

3. You Don’t Keep Your Estate Planning Documents Updated

No one plans for a divorce or the death of an heir, but these things happen. You should update your estate planning documents every year or two and definitely review them after any significant life change.

  • Promptly add newborn children, grandchildren, or adopted children into your estate planning documents.
  • Add your spouse to your estate planning documents. He or she will often be listed as your power of attorney, beneficiary, etc.
  • If you divorce, update your paperwork before the divorce is even finalized.

You probably have your bucket list planned out. But what about plans for those left behind? Don’t drown in these and other common estate planning mistakes.

When you need a professional to walk alongside you during your estate planning journey, contact Matthew C Yu Estate Planning Attorneys.