Taking the time to create an estate plan is one of the most meaningful – and beneficial — gifts you can give to yourself and to the people you love. It is easy to make mistakes when it comes to estate planning though – and a mistake could cost you, or your loved ones, a considerable amount of time, money, and grief. The Nashua estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices discuss three of the most common estate planning mistakes you should try to avoid making.
- Believing you Do Not Need a Plan Yet. One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the need for estate planning is the idea that you need to reach a certain point in your life, or you need to achieve a certain material success before the need for an estate plan really kicks in. While it is true that as your family and your estate grow, you will need to build on your basic estate plan to accommodate that growth, every adult should have at least a basic estate plan in place. A basic plan, usually consisting of a Last Will and Testament and one or two other estate planning documents, prevents you from leaving behind an intestate estate should something happen to you. It also allows you to decide who will oversee the probate of your estate and provides you with the only official opportunity you have to let a judge know who you would want to be the guardian for your minor children if one is ever needed. Do not put off creating your estate plan under the mistaken belief that you do not need one yet.
- Forgetting to Include Incapacity Planning. When you think about the need for estate planning you likely think in terms of planning for your eventual death. While your estate plan certainly should do that, a comprehensive estate plan will also plan for the possibility of your own incapacity. Moreover, incapacity is not limited to old age. You stand a one in five chance of suffering a period of disability lasting five month or more prior to reaching retirement age. If you do suffer a period of incapacity, who will make personal and healthcare decisions for you? Who will take over control of your assets and finances? Absent an incapacity plan, a judge may be the one answering those questions – and you may not like the answers. The way to avoid that outcome is to incorporate an incapacity planning component into your comprehensive estate plan.
- Failing to Update Your Plan. Your estate plan is not something you should create and then forget about if you want a plan that actually works. Just as your life does not remain static, neither should your estate plan. As you grow and change, so should your plan. During your working years you should routinely review and revise your estate plan every three to five years. Once you retire you can stretch that to every five to eight years. Certain life events also call for a more immediate revision of your estate plan. Marriage or divorce, for example, should prompt an immediate update to your plan as should things such as retirement, a move to a new state, the birth of a child, or the death of a fiduciary. If you are uncertain whether a change in your life requires a revision to your estate plan, check with your estate planning attorney to be sure your plan remains up to date.
Contact Nashua Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns, or you are ready to get started with your estate plan, contact the Nashua estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.
If you die intestate, the state intestate succession laws will determine who gets your assets and how they are divided among those heirs.
A type of advance directive known as a medical power of attorney allows you to designate an Agent to make medical care and treatment decisions for you.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to ensure that your plan is cohesive, complete, and error-free both now and in the future.