What Are the Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes?


Creating an estate plan provides peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of after you're gone. However, creating a plan that avoids common mistakes is even more crucial. No one wants to contribute to the stress and headaches of their loved ones, especially when it comes to important legal matters.

By educating yourself on the common mistakes made while creating an estate plan, you can ensure that your efforts result in a comprehensive plan that will provide your loved ones with the protection they deserve. Keep reading to learn how to avoid these mistakes and create a plan that can take care of your loved ones.

1. Not Discussing with Loved Ones

When it comes to discussing your estate plan with loved ones, it's often recommended to have at least a brief conversation to set expectations and avoid potential disagreements down the line. While there may be exceptions to this rule, having open communication with your family and friends now could lessen the likelihood of any contention after you pass.

If discussing isn't feasible, including specific language in your estate plan that penalizes anyone who contests it can help protect your wishes. Taking action now can provide peace of mind both for yourself and your loved ones.

2. Not Updating Your Plan

Estate planning might seem like a one-time task, but it's important to remember that life is constantly changing. That's why it's essential to keep your estate plan current and reflective of any significant life events that happen along the way.

Reasons to update you will include:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth of a child
  • Passing of a loved one

These changes and many more can all impact your plan. To ensure your wishes are carried out as intended and to avoid potential legal complications, consider updating your plan every three to five years. Making the time for regular updates can give you peace of mind, knowing that your plan is up to date and aligned with your current wishes.

3. Not Preparing for Incapacity

Creating a will or trust is often associated with planning for the inevitable – death. However, it’s important to remember that there are other circumstances in life that can impair our ability to make decisions.

That’s why it’s essential to have an estate plan that covers these possibilities. This plan should specify who can make important decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated.

Decisions that will be made on your behalf include:

  • Financial
  • Health care
  • Other critical matters

A power of attorney (POA) should be included to enable them to act on your behalf. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ensure your loved ones know how you want your things handled.

4. Forgetting to Include Funeral & Burial Wishes

Planning for the inevitable is never an easy task, but it is an important one. If your wishes include purchasing a burial plot and making funeral plans, state as much in your estate documents as possible. By doing so, you won't leave it to your children to search for that information. If you haven't made such plans, consider writing your wishes into your will or trust.

In addition, remember to delegate a point person who will be in charge of the funeral and burial arrangements and make sure that person understands your final wishes. According to N.C.G.S.A. § 130A-420, funeral arrangement responsibility falls on the following people in order:

  • The person you appointed
  • Your spouse
  • Your children
  • Your parent
  • Your siblings

Failure to include your final wishes can leave your family with a lot to work out after your passing. Don't leave your loved ones with uncertainty during their time of grief. Take action now to help ease their burden later.

Get Legal Guidance

Preparing for the inevitable can be emotionally taxing. However, it is crucial to have a well-laid-out estate plan in place so that your assets are distributed as per your wishes. Even small errors in estate planning can lead to major legal issues, and it is advisable to be aware of these mistakes.

Our estate planning attorneys at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC are well versed in the complexities of estate planning and can guide you through the process, making it a smooth experience for you and your loved ones. If you have any questions or need legal assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We can be here to help you secure your legacy.

Call us today at (704) 931-5535 or reach out to us online to learn more.