The process of estate planning can be complicated at the best of times, and that complexity can lead to some serious potential problems. If you are not careful, you can cause legal and financial problems for you and your loved ones that may need to be sorted out long after you are gone. Here are five of the biggest mistakes people make when planning their estates:

  1. Putting off estate planning
    • All too often, people consider planning their estates to be a problem for the future, something they can put off until late. Unfortunately, this can lead to people putting off their estate planning until a point where it is too late, and they and their loved ones are left scrambling to deal with the fallout. In reality, it is never too early to begin estate planning, even if you are in good health and a long way away from retirement.
  2. Failing to prepare for incapacity
    • An estate plan is not just about planning for the eventuality of their passing. It is also about preparing for the possibility that you may be incapacitated by illness or injury, and left unable to handle your own personal affairs. Without planning their estates with measures like a power of attorney or health care proxy, your loved ones may be left sorting out a legal and financial emergency while you are unable to do anything to help.
  3. Forgetting about taxes and expenses
    • It may sound absurd, but dying can be incredibly expensive. Between funeral expenses, estate taxes, court fees, and other expenses, your loved ones could be stuck with a massive bill after you pass away. With proper estate planning, however, you can avoid many of these expenses, or at least mitigate the costs that your loved ones might otherwise need to deal with.
  4. Not keeping an estate plan up to date
    • Sadly, it is rarely enough to make an estate plan once and then simply forget about it. Your legal and financial situation can change over time, requiring you to go back and revise your estate plan to account for changes to your personal assets, as well as your wishes for how you want your property to be distributed. People who are satisfied with planning their estates once may find that the estate plan that gets executed does not match their current desires.
  5. Not preparing for a possible legal challenge
    • Just because you are happy with your estate plan does not mean everyone else will be. That is why you should always make sure to put in contingencies in the event that your will or other aspects of your estate face a legal challenge. This is also why you should make sure to review your estate plan with a lawyer, who can help you to create a plan that suits your needs and protects you and your loved ones from legal difficulties.

    The estate planning attorneys at David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC will work with you to handle all of your trust and estate law needs, including assisting in estate law litigation. For comprehensive estate and elder law services in New York, call David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Setauket office.

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