Common Estate Planning Mistakes

In our experience  there are lots of myths and mistakes around Estate Planning and a lack of action can often lead to heartache for those left behind. Here's some thoughts we recently came across in an article from Forbes.com - can you relate to these?

1. Assuming Estate Planning is only for the wealthy

It’s a commonly held misconception that Estate Planning is reserved for rich people. But if you own a property, have children or want to know what will happen to your private affairs if you become incapacitated or die then it’s worth considering. Meaning its relevant for pretty much all of us.

2. Thinking your finances are too simple for Estate Planning

Many assume that their financial or family situation is so straightforward that formal documents don’t need to be drafted. But what if you have young children? What will happen to their inheritance and who will manage their affairs on their behalf until they are old enough to be responsible? The reality is that no ones life is as simple as it appears -  you should still consider putting the appropriate plans in place to ensure your wishes are known.

3. Putting off making plans for too long

Most peoples excuse for not making a will is that they simply haven’t got around to it. That, or they just don’t want to consider their own mortality. At the very least think of Estate Planning as a way of reducing family stress when you’re no longer able to make decisions or, sadly, even around any longer.

4. Neglecting your digital assets

Remember that your property isn’t confined to what you physically own, you have your online life to consider too. At the very least, leave a list of your online accounts with some instruction of what you would like to happen when you’re gone.

5. Not preparing for ‘what if’ situations

Whilst it would be nice to believe that marriage lasts forever and everyone stays healthy into old age, in reality it’s not always the case for everyone that this proves to be true. Marriages can end in divorce, businesses fail, children move away.  Disputes can arise between second spouses and children from the first marriage when there’s no clear plan of who is entitled to which assets. A will should be considered a living document, not one to be drafted and forgotten about. Circumstances change regularly in peoples’ lives and keeping details of your affairs up to date is essential.

6. Don’t forget about mans’ best friend

Legally your pets are your personal property so you should take the time to spell out who will be responsible for them. Will the designated care giver require additional funds specifically to take care of your furry friend? If you don’t want your pet taken to a shelter or euthanized, you should include your pet in your plans

7. Not putting enough thought into naming key people i.e. Personal Representatives, Trustees etc

Selecting the person to be in charge of your affairs is no small decision. You should be clear about your reasoning and choose the person who is most likely to be willing and, importantly, able to take up the role. Professional advisers can be sought, and in a number of instances could be the best option. But if you select someone you know, be certain that your confidence in them to uphold your wishes will be met.
You can view the full Forbes article that inspired this post here