Common Estate Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Making Them

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2020 | estate planning


When you decide to get started with estate planning, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with the most common mistakes typically made in estate planning to make sure that you do not end up making the same ones. You will want to get things done right the first time because correcting these mistakes later on can be costly and time-consuming.

The California estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver are here to help you with all of your estate planning needs. Our attorneys have many years of experience and can help you prepare estate plans that best suit your needs. Contact our office today to schedule a meeting with one of our lawyers to discuss your estate planning goals.

The Biggest Mistake – Not Having Any Estate Plans

The biggest mistake that you can make when it comes to estate planning is to fail to have any estate plans prepared at all. By ensuring that you have estate plans in place clearly stating your wishes, you can make sure that your beneficiaries receive everything that you intend them to receive in the event of your passing. You can also include things in your estate plans that can be to your benefit while you are still alive, such as preparing power of attorney documents and designating someone to make financial or other important decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make the decisions on your own.

Mistake #2 – Not Properly Planning for a Long-term or Unexpected Disability

Unfortunately, accidents happen all too often, and they may derail future plans. If you end up suffering an unexpected disability, especially a long-term disability, it is crucial that you have some plans in place to lessen the blow that this may have on your future and your finances. Having power of attorney documents drafted, which include the name of the individual you have designated to hold this responsibility, is an important aspect of estate planning, particularly when it comes to unexpected accidents or future events that cause disability.

Mistake #3 – Choosing the Wrong Person to Hold Responsibilities Regarding Your Estate

Many people do not put a lot of thought into who they choose to serve as trustees or executors of their estate, or who to designate as their power of attorney in the event they become incapacitated. It is common for people to automatically designate their spouse or one of their children for these roles. Before defaulting to your spouse or one of your children, make sure to speak with them to make sure that they will be able to handle these roles if the need arises. 

Remember, they will be dealing with their own distress and grief, so you will want to select someone who you know will be able to handle these responsibilities, even during a difficult time in their lives. Another thing to consider is that if you opt to designate someone as having the power of attorney to make important decisions in the event that you become incapacitated, you will want to make sure that the person you choose will follow your wishes. For example, if you are strongly against the use of extraordinary measures to prolong your life, such as life-support, you will want to be sure to clearly state this desire in the relevant documents, and also to choose someone that you know will follow your wishes rather than possibly challenging that in court.

Mistake #4 – Forgetting to Update Your Will Over Time

Another common mistake often made in estate planning is that someone who diligently prepared their estate plans assumes that everything is fine since they have already prepared these documents, and does not consider how the documents and plans may need to be altered or updated over time for many reasons. For example, you may want to consider updating your will to include additional beneficiaries, such as additional children and grandchildren that may not have existed at the time the original documents had been prepared. Another consideration may be that if you named someone as a beneficiary or executor of your will and they pass away before you do, you will want to make some changes to your will to reflect your wishes given these changes in circumstance. 

In order to avoid making these mistakes in the first place, it is important to speak with an experienced California estate planning attorney as you begin the estate planning process. Your attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have and will help you prepare the documents that are necessary to meet your goals for the future.