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 death:
- They Do Nothing– -Doing nothing means that when you die, you will leave behind a big, jumbled mess of an estate. Your relatives will have to deal with handling your estate without any of your input. People who die without a will and proper estate plan put their families at risk of strife and fallings out as those left behind try to figure out what you would have wanted. Or worse yet, they might disregard what you would have wanted, selfishly trying to gain more for themselves.
- They Do a DIY Will– -The age of the internet has cursed us with the cookie cutter will template (actually, before the internet they sold will forms in stationary stores). 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 entails: some declarations, some instructions, maybe a witness or two. But when it comes to DIY wills, sometimes a little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all. You may end up with invalid witnesses, a lack of a proper notarization, or signing the will in the wrong place (or not at all). People have left confusing handwritten lists of items that may or may not exist at the time of their death. Sometimes people even try typing up some notes on a computer document and calling it a day. A Word document with some instructions on it does not constitute a valid will. It means nothing.
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 estate plan end up as a future estate planning horror story.
At Skulborstad Legal Group, LLC, we love helping people make the right plans to secure their legacy. Contact us today so we can begin to handcraft the right estate plan for you and your family.