Many people don’t consider their estate plan much farther than simply putting together a simple will. This causes Massachusetts families to fight over things left out of the will or bad blood because someone’s left out entirely.
A lot of grief, time and money can be saved by catching these common estate planning mistakes before it’s too late:
Not understanding your own plan
Many people simply sign a plan without any real idea of what he or she just agreed to. This could be because they trust their attorney to know what’s best or don’t think to ask clarifying questions.
It’s important to know exactly what your personal estate plan does and doesn’t cover. When you finish your first draft, it can be helpful to walk through the entire process once more. Detailed notes may save you a headache in the future.
Ignoring outside beneficiaries
Many people don’t realize that certain beneficiaries exist outside estate plans. Retirement accounts and life insurance beneficiaries need to be addressed separately, among other accounts.
If you need to change a beneficiary at any point, don’t think an estate plan update will address the change. Similarly, if you retire or switch jobs, a new retirement account may have an outdated beneficiary on file. While your estate plan is comprehensive, there are certain accounts that will need extra attention.
Ignoring digital assets
As we move more and more of our lives online, people are leaving hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of digital possessions up for grabs. Be sure to address digital possessions of sentimental or monetary value in your estate plan. If you know your children will cherish a photo album on your personal computer, specify how they can access it.
Additionally, address what will happen with your digital profiles. If you want a Facebook profile to stay active, make sure to say so. If there are accounts you’d rather close, entrust someone with that task and provide clear instructions on how to do so. Don’t leave your digital legacy to chance.
The sooner the better
A good estate plan will give your family guidelines around your wishes and address all concerns you may have going forward.
If you haven’t created an estate plan, or know it’s been a while since you last checked yours, a skilled estate planning attorney can be an invaluable resource.