Estate Planning: 3 Of The Most Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
Almost 50% of U.S citizens over the age of 55 don’t have a will, which is surprising when you consider that this crucial document allows you to achieve in death what you’ve devoted your entire life to—taking care of those you love.
This can be a huge problem for heirs, since the legal process of dividing an estate – known as probate – can take a huge financial and emotional toll if there’s no will in place.
With that being said, just creating a will isn’t enough to safeguard your assets, prevent family disputes, and protect your final wishes. You also have to ensure that the will you create is legally sound and binding.
Avoiding the following common mistakes is a good way to start.
Planning Just For Death
If your will only addresses the fate of your assets when you die, it’s not complete. A truly comprehensive will also address what happens while you’re still alive. This means it should contain legally-binding, detailed instructions that designate and guide caregivers if you can no longer make sound legal decisions because of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other health conditions.
Therefore, you should create financial and healthcare powers of attorney that can grant individuals the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf.
A will represents just one of the ways in which properties and assets are divided after death. Beneficiary designations on insurance policies and financial accounts are another way, and the latter generally trumps the former.
For instance, if you want to bequeath all your property and assets to your new girlfriend, but your children are the designated beneficiaries on all your accounts, the statements in your will won’t count for anything.
Addressing Only Your Physical Assets
Forgetting about digital assets, such as email accounts, social media accounts, and online banking credentials, is a common mistake people make in the digital age. Some digital assets, such as particular photos, may hold some sentimental or financial value. Others, such as login credentials, can be abused if they fall into the wrong hands.
If you have an online presence, it’s vital that you bequeath your digital property and information in your will.
Ledwidge & Associates, P.C., is a leading legal firm that assists clients across New York with estate planning, Family Law Services Queens, Family Law Services Brooklyn, divorce, and probate law. If you require our services, get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation.
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