What are Big Mistakes to Avoid in Estate Planning?

Keep your estate plan up to date! Whether it’s a change in domicile, the death of a family member, new grandchildren, or a significant change in assets, it is important to make sure you adjust your estate plan accordingly, says Kiplinger’s recent article entitled “Updating Your Estate Plan? Don’t Make These Top Mistakes.”

  1. Updating a will or trust but forgetting to update ancillary documents. When updating an estate plan, people tend to home in on updating their wills and trusts without also having their powers of attorney, health care directives, or guardians reviewed. This prevents them from completing a full update to their estate planning. While these ancillary documents are good forever, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be reviewed and updated.
  2. Using flawed reasoning when selecting agents to act on your behalf. Some people choose their executors, trustees and other agents by trying to appoint all their children together or appointing agents by age or profession, instead of who is best suited to serve. The best person should live nearby and have the time to address issues you may need.
  3. Forgetting to update an estate plan when moving to another state. Estate planning documents drafted out-of-state, provided they were drafted with the legal requirements of that state, will be effective in all states. However, practically speaking, having out-of-state documents can complicate trust or estate administration, or the ability to exercise powers of attorney or health care directives. You should always update your plan when you move to another state to make certain that the plan functions correctly.
  4. Forgetting to create an asset cheat sheet or failing to keep that list updated. Most of us accumulate different assets and investments as we get older. It’s not uncommon for a person to have stocks, life insurance, annuities, securities, or other investments at many different institutions. When you update your estate plan, create a list of your accounts and assets and update that list as things change. Be sure to include the name and location of the account and the last four digits of the account number.

When making changes, if you avoid the above mistakes, it will ensure that your plan is properly updated and will not cause any unnecessary future complications. If you live in the Madison, Wisconsin area and have a question about your current plan, or if you need to put an estate plan in place, call us to talk!

Reference: Kiplinger (June 30, 2022) “Updating Your Estate Plan? Don’t Make These Top Mistakes”

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