6 Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid in Florida
There are many quick and easy estate planning tools that you may know about. However, there are many estate planning misconceptions and working with an experienced St. Petersburg estate planning attorney can help you avoid common mistakes.
Below, we provide a list of six estate planning mistakes that can – and should – be avoided.
- Not Updating Beneficiary Designations
Every once in a while, it is important to update your estate plan to ensure that it reflects your wishes and contains up-to-date and correct information. However, many people often forget to update their beneficiary designations on their accounts. Moreover, many individuals often forget who they may have designated as a beneficiary in the past, so it is always good to review.
Forgetting to update beneficiary designations can cause confusion when your estate is administrated upon your death. As a result, your assets may not be distributed to your beneficiaries as you intended. Your beneficiary designations “supersede” your Will so it is important to talk to an attorney if you are not sure how your assets will pass upon your death.
- Failing to Plan for Incapacity
Many people do not anticipate their own potential incapacity, which is why it is not uncommon for many individuals to avoid arranging for their own care. This is a major estate planning mistake to avoid. You can plan for incapacity by creating a:
- Designation of a Health Care Surrogate to appoint a person, usually a spouse or adult child, to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacity;
- Durable Power of Attorney to appoint an individual to manage your assets if you become incapacitated;
- Declaration of Preneed Guardian to name someone to serve as your guardian if a guardianship proceeding is required.
Without these documents, then a court may need to appoint someone to serve as your decision-maker, which may or may not be someone you would have selected.
- Forgetting About Joint Accounts and Assets
When opening a bank account, you may be asked to include a joint owner on the account. The good thing about holding a bank account jointly with someone else is that these funds and assets will avoid the probate process. Unfortunately, some individuals will name one child as a joint owner without understanding that the jointly named child will inherit the account and will not pass pursuant to your Will or any beneficiary designation.
- Neglecting to Update Your Estate Plan
If you have created a will or trust in the past, it is essential to update your estate planning documents from time to time. However, many people neglect to revisit their plans. What you need to understand is that major changes in your life should be reflected in your estate plan. Otherwise, any inconsistencies in the plan may complicate the administration of your estate. Moreover, laws change over time and you want to make sure your plan isn’t unnecessarily frustrated by newer laws.
Make sure that you contact a skilled estate planning attorney to help you review your plan every time major life changes occur (marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, death of a beneficiary, and others).
- Attempting to Create a DIY Estate Plan
Nowadays, it is easy to find a website that allows you to create a Do-It-Yourself estate plan without having to pay an attorney. Some of the services are free, while others charge a fee.
These DIY estate plan services work by filling out the forms on a website and then providing your with execution instructions. However, what many do not realize is that these DIY services fail to consider your unique financial and family circumstances and do not guarantee that the estate plan will be valid and enforceable. By hiring an attorney, you can rest assured that your plan is legal and was executed properly.
- Withholding Information from Your Estate Planning Attorney (or Not Having One at All)
When you hire an attorney, you have an attorney-client relationship, which includes attorney-client privilege and our obligation to keep your information confidential. Withholding important information from your attorney can cause more harm than good. It is critical to share all details regarding your family dynamics, financial situation, and any anticipated conflicts that may arise between your heirs when you are gone. The more we know about your family and your needs, the more we can help you.
Our St. Petersburg estate planning attorneys at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, can help you create an efficient estate plan tailored for your unique circumstances and family needs. Call for a consultation at 727-471-5868.