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What are Common Mistakes in Estate Planning?

For every American that has a will or trust, there are many more that have never thought about estate planning at all. For many of the people that have yet to work out the details of their estate, the task may seem daunting or scary, but actually, it’s quite painless. Once you’ve met with an estate planning lawyer, you can leave feeling like a burden you were not even aware of has been lifted.

Before you step out of the door to go set up a trust or even if you’ve already made your will, here are a few common mistakes to avoid when thinking about estate planning:

  1. Not updating your will regularly

    It’s necessary to make updates to your will when you get remarried, or if you or your spouse has another child. Failure to update a will when various life-changing situations take place will cause problems in the future.

  1. Not planning for business succession

    If you are a business owner or own an interest in a family or closely-held company, you must have a business succession plan is in place to make the transition smooth in the event you become ill, incapacitated or unexpectedly pass.

  1. Forgetting to tell your family or professionals where your documents are located

    It happens all the time; the will is lost in a pile of paperwork or in the drawer of your old desk that’s been put in storage. Keep your family member, business professionals (including CPAs and lawyers) and trustees updated on the physical location of your will or trusts to avoid any problems finding the documents later.

  1. Failing to name a guardian for minor children

    Your children are the most important thing in this world, so naming a guardian who can care for them and help them grow into the best they can be if you and your spouse both pass is an important decision. As long as your children are legally minors, make sure to name guardians in the will and make sure the potential guardians are aware of this appointment and are ready to take on this (extremely unlikely) situation.

  1. Not setting up a life insurance trust

    There are a number of mistakes that can be made regarding your life insurance. There may not be enough proceeds from the insurance to replace the income of a key member of the household, or maybe the proceeds are paid out in an insensitive manner (i.e. before the beneficiary is emotionally ready; or perhaps it’s paid out all at once rather than over time). You can keep the insurance proceeds from a whole life policy out of the probate process by setting up a life insurance trust.

  1. Trying to do it yourself without through proper legal channels

    In the event that you need to draft, supplement or amend your will or trust, be sure to go through proper legal channels so that there can be no dispute over the documents’ authenticity and enforceability.

These are just a few examples of the errors that can be made while planning out a will or trust. It’s important to make sure that every last detail is covered so that the transition can be smooth and worry-free for you and your loved ones. If you need any help planning or amending your will contact a Des Plaines estate attorney at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. today.

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