Common Mistakes Associated with Estate Planning

estate plan, estate planning documents, lawyer, attorney, IllinoisEstate planning is not easy, but that does not mean you should avoid doing it. Unfortunately, a lot of families fail to make these plans, which is why many Americans have no preparations for what happens to their property after they are gone. In fact, according to one survey, half of Americans do not have a will, and among those who do, many fail to update them after major life events such as marriage or childbirth. The survey also determined that men are more likely than women to prepare a will.

Failing to make an estate plan is a mistake. You worked hard for your property during life and you should decide what happens to it. Moreover, a detailed outline will ease the transition for your children and other loved ones. It is wonderful if you have made the important decision to plan in advance, but that is only half of the battle. Planning improperly can be just as disastrous as failing to plan at all. Here are five common estate planning mistakes and how to avoid them:

  1. Not updating your estate documents. As mentioned above, many people do not update their wills after major life events. Did you just get a divorce? You might not want to leave money to your former spouse anymore. Did you have another child? You might want to set something aside for him.
  2. Neglecting your pets. More and more Americans are choosing to establish pet trusts to ensure the well-being of their furry friends from beyond the grave. Remember that Illinois law does not allow pet owners to bequeath money directly to their animals, so if you do not create a trust you will need to make other arrangements.
  3. Not considering all of your estate planning options. A will is not the only vehicle for dividing property. Trusts provide many advantages, including reduction of estate and gift taxes, and can be used to pass on assets to your children.
  4. Forgetting about your digital assets. We are increasingly conducting our lives on the Internet, through email, social media, online banking, etc. That is why it is important to maintain a list of usernames and passwords so that your loved ones will not be locked out of important assets when you die. (Note that generally, you cannot pass on your digital libraries or music collections.)
  5. Failing to create a living will. Estate planning and death go hand in hand. This is not a comfortable conversation to have with your family, but it is important to express your wishes regarding end-of-life care prior to that eventuality. Having a plan in place will prevent your loved ones from making emotional decisions.

These are only a few of the common mistakes that people make. We understand that estate planning is an involved, complicated process that should not be undertaken alone, but it is a process that should still be undertaken. Our skilled estate planning attorneys have more than 30 years of experience handling wills, trusts, living wills, and all of the complexities associated with estate planning. Contact us today for help creating your estate plan. We can assist those in the Naperville area.