The New Year is filled with new resolutions, and for most of us, the very best of intentions. Many start with a list of things that they are going to accomplish, including dieting, exercise, achieving a better work/life balance, etc. Often, that list includes creating or updating an estate plan. Of course, creating or updating is a great idea any time of the year as long as you don’t make any of the most common mistakes. To help you avoid them, here are some of the most common mistakes made:

Mistake #1: Doing Nothing. Just putting it on the list is not good enough (like resolving to lose weight, it takes action!). We never know when the plan will be needed and havoc can sometimes result when parents die in an accident and no guardian nominations were made for the children, etc.

Mistake #2: Failing to Ensure Beneficiary Designations Are Consistent with Your Plan. A new plan may not work entirely the way you envisioned if you have old beneficiary designations on life insurance or other property in naming a former spouse, the brother you don’t speak to anymore, etc., when you die. Be certain to review all beneficiary designations and update them consistently with your planning.

Mistake #3: Believing an Estate Plan Is Only About or Needed for What Happens After You Are Dead. A good estate plan includes planning for disability and healthcare emergencies. An estate plan includes powers of attorney, living wills and other valuable tools for medical emergencies or disability.

Mistake #4: Failing to Revise the Plan. Very few plans, if any, can last for extended periods of time. When your life changes, your estate grows, a divorce or other significant events occur, it is time to review and consider appropriate adjustments to your estate plan.

Start the New Year by creating or revising your estate plan, but avoid the most common mistakes!

Anne Hensley Poindexter, Partner


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