When it comes to planning your estate, any mistakes can be costly and potentially cause upset at a really difficult time. The whole point of a proper estate plan is to make things as easy as possible for your family, taking as much stress out of the process of organising your affairs when you die as possible.
That’s why it’s so important that you make sure you avoid these common estate planning mistakes. Here at Face to Face Estate Planning, we’ve come up with 4 for this article – read on to get all the details.
1. Not planning properly
One of the most common estate planning mistakes that people make is simply not planning properly.
This covers a lot of different issues, such as not including all the assets you need to, not including all the beneficiaries you need to, or even not properly planning for tax efficiency or following the right regulations.
Obviously, when it comes to creating an effective and successful estate plan, the number one priority is ensuring that it covers all your assets and leaves them to the right people. If you don’t take the time and do the research to do this, you could end up with people fighting over your assets, leaving things out, or even leaving things to the wrong people.
2. Only naming 1 beneficiary for each asset
Another common issue that we see is people only naming 1 beneficiary for their assets. This one might sound counter-intuitive, but in general it’s worth naming contingent beneficiaries for your assets.
What this means is that if your primary beneficiary passes away before you do, then the asset would automatically be left to the contingent beneficiary. It’s a way of not having to update your will as often.
While it might be fine for certain wills, particularly very simple ones, to only leave the estate or asset to 1 beneficiary, in practice it’s usually worth adding another to be safe and ensure the estate is left according to your wishes.
3. Not updating your plan
Many people write their will once, and then never update it again. This is such a common mistake, and it’s so crucial that you revisit your will and estate plan to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
While professionally written wills will include specific clauses that help to future-proof the wishes, you’ll still want to update the will if any major life events occur, like marriages, divorces or children being born.
Plus, your assets and estates may change over time, so it’s worth taking the time to update your plan to reflect these and ensure that you’ve captured the whole of your estate in your estate plan.
4. Not discussing it with anybody
This last common mistake may not apply to every case, and it can be difficult to have conversations with your friends and family about what happens when you die. However, it’s worth discussing your estate plan with the important people in your life.
This is a useful way to set expectations now to ensure that people aren’t disappointed or upset by the contents of the estate plan. Many contested wills are only contested because of a miscommunication in the past, so setting the record straight and ensuring everybody understands what your wishes are, can reduce the chance of contention later, helping make a stressful situation easier to manage.
You should definitely discuss your estate plan with your spouse or anybody else you’ve named as an executor or trustee, and it’s a good idea to include your wider friends and family in discussions.