When you're contemplating end-of-life issues and your final wishes, it's important to watch out for some painfully common mistakes.
Here are the worst estate planning mistakes we see:
1. Deciding to forgo the will
You need a will. In fact, every adult needs a will. Even if you don't have anything of great objective value, you need to tell your loved ones how to dispose of your possessions, which may have tremendous subjective, sentimental value to your friends and family and your earthly remains.
2. Not planning for an accident or another emergency
There are calamities other than death that can occur. You could be taken severely ill or left incapacitated in a serious accident. If that happens, who will handle your bills until you can manage them again? Who do you want to make decisions about your health care until you can make them again? A power of attorney for financial decisions and another for medical decisions are essential for everyone.
3. Not setting up a trust for your life insurance
You may have plenty of life insurance set aside for your spouse and kids -- but taxes can eat into that nest egg. A trust can protect your life insurance proceeds from unnecessary taxation and make your loved ones' lives easier after you are gone.
4. Not remembering to periodically check over the paperwork
Estate planning is seldom really "over." You need to review your plans once a year to make sure that they still meet your needs. You should also update your will and other plans as big changes occur -- like the birth of a child and the start or end of a marriage.
Estate planning is a complicated process, and there are a lot of potential mistakes that can be made -- so why do we call these mistakes the "worst" ones you can make? Because they're so commonly done and so easily avoidable! Talk to an attorney with experience handling estate plans to discuss more issues specific to your needs.