The point of a thorough, well-crafted estate plan is to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of financially when you're gone. These plans are designed to ease the burden placed on your family, friends and associates when you die. Unfortunately, however, there are several blunders that can make things even more difficult for them as they try to puzzle out your intentions.
Many of these mistakes come from do-it-yourself estate plans. Estate planning is a complex area of the law that combines issues of taxation, business, property rights and others. That's a lot to know – and a lot that do-it-yourselfers may not even realize they don't know. Trying to wade into estate planning on your own can be difficult and have serious consequences for your loved ones.
Many people may believe they only need a basic, fill-in-the-blank will that they can print off from the Internet or secure from a legal aid organization. However, such wills often fail to consider every angle. For example, if a mother has sole custody of her child she may elect to have all of her assets go to the child. However, if the child dies those assets may be passed along to her estranged ex-husband. Very few people want their former spouses benefiting financially from their death.
Working with an expert can help you avoid such missteps. Because estate planning is so complicated it is essential to consult someone who understands the details and can help you plan for almost any contingency. In our next post we'll discuss some other potential pitfalls in estate planning and how you can try to avoid them.