Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Everyone must create an estate plan, no matter their age. These documents are essential to ensure your affairs and handled the way you want after your passing.

To make sure your wishes, requests, and information are properly – and legally – documented, it’s essential to hire an estate planning attorney and avoid these common estate planning mistakes.

Not Having an Estate Plan

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to have an estate plan. Without a plan, your assets may be distributed according to state laws, which may not align with your wishes. Creating a comprehensive estate plan, including a will or trust, is essential to ensure your desires are documented and carried out.

Failing to Update Your Estate Plan

If you made an estate plan years ago – or if you’re making one now – you likely optimistically thought your life circumstances would not change. You assumed you’d have the same people in your life, the same assets, and other details would be the same. Unfortunately, things can change. We don’t like to think about it, but divorces happen. Loved ones can pass away unexpectedly, and more. These life changes need to be documented in your estate plan. Failing to do so can result in the wrong people obtaining your assets or making decisions on your behalf.

Not Naming Beneficiaries 

While it’s great for you to take out insurance policies, retirement accounts, and investment accounts, these are useless unless you appoint beneficiaries. You must list the person you want to inherit your accounts and assets. These should also be updated as your life circumstances change.

Naming the Wrong Executor

It’s essential to name the correct executor of your estate. This should be someone you trust and can rely on to make responsible decisions and carry out your wishes. If you name the wrong person, you may be stressed about whether or not they will be able to take on the role.

Forgetting to Account for Incapacity Planning

While it’s not pleasant to think about, in addition to accounting for wishes after your passing, you should also document what happens if you become incapacitated. You will need to name the power of attorney for healthcare directives.

Overlooking Tax Implications

When creating an estate plan, it’s important to consider the tax implications your estate can have for you and your loved ones. Structuring your plan incorrectly can result in additional taxes, or missed opportunities to save on taxes.

Failing to Communicate Wishes

It’s crucial to tell your loved ones you created an estate plan and let them know what is documented in it. Giving them a heads-up and discussing it will help avoid disputes between family members after your passing.

Not Including Digital Assets

When documenting your assets in your estate plan, it’s important to not overlook your digital assets and accounts. You should include logins and passwords to your digital accounts so your family can access your information.

Creating Your Estate Plan

It’s important to hire an estate planning attorney to create your estate plan. Trying to create your plan without a lawyer can result in numerous issues. You can miss a step, forget to properly file paperwork or documents, and make an error in filing.

Why Hire Us for Estate Planning

When creating an estate plan, hire an attorney and avoid making common errors. Get help from the estate planning experts at Johnstone Adams LLC.

Ranked in the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in 12 practice areas, we have experts in many areas of law to give our clients top-notch representation. In business for more than a century, our firm can mix its experience with the ability to evolve with the changing times.

To get started, contact us at 251-319-4659 or

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