Avoid estate planning horror stories: 2 ways that people fail to plan

 
Posted by Gerald J. Turner

We take care of our loved ones our entire lives. But, one of the worst things you can do to them is dying without the right estate plan in place.Just like the old adage says: “when we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” People tend to make one of two common mistakes when it comes to planning for their affairs after they die:

1. They do nothing
Doing nothing means leaving behind a huge, jumbled mess. Your family will have to deal with handling your affairs without any guidance. People who die without proper estate plans put their families at risk of strife caused by trying to figure out what you would have wanted. Or worse yet, they might misrepresent or disregard what you would have wanted, selfishly trying to gain more for themselves.

2. They go the DIY route with their will and estate plan
Before the internet, people sometimes purchased cookie-cutter wills from stationary stores. Today, there are forms all over the internet claiming to be adequate for making your own will. No matter how you get a hold of a generic form will, it is a terrible choice. The money you saved on the front end will end up costing your loved ones in legal fees after your death.

Most people think they know what a will should include: some declarations of intent, some instructions, maybe a witness or two. But sometimes a little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all.

Those who try to save money with the DIY route can end up with disqualified witnesses, a lack of a proper notarization, or signing the will in the wrong place (or not at all). Sometimes people have leave confusing handwritten lists of items. Sometimes people even try typing up some notes on a computer document and calling it a day. A Word document with some instructions is not valid will.

Sometimes people attempt to do even more complex estate planning by themselves, like forming a trust, but not realizing that the trust needs to be properly funded. Funds must be transferred or deeds must be changed to transfer ownership to the trust. Trusts are complicated legal documents. If they are not handled correctly, they will likely end up totally useless. Others try to “estate plan” by changing the beneficiaries on their insurance forms or retirement funds. These are ineffective ways to plan, and messing with retirement benefits or pensions may lead to costly complications down the road.

Don’t let your failure to plan cause you to end up as an estate planning horror story. We specialize in educating and helping you protect what you have for the people you love the most. Join us for our next free workshop where you can learn more about how we can help you and your family.