The whole point of having an estate plan is to plan ahead and prepare for your inevitable demise so that you can have peace of mind, knowing your family will be taken care of when you die.

But not all estate plans always go —well, according to plan.

Especially when you do not have experienced estate and probate counsel prepare your estate plan.

Cutting corners on your estate plan can lead to serious and expensive mistakes. Many of which cannot be fixed once you die. So if you are thinking about putting your estate plan together, it is important to be aware that mistakes that can turn your plan into a complete probate nightmare.

Here are our top 3 mistakes to avoid.

  1. Not having an estate plan.

Ok, this one should be obvious, but if you do not have an estate plan, with (preferably) a trust and a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) in place when you die, along with several other critical estate planning documents—bad things can, and will, happen.

Just to name a few:

  • Without a Will or trust, all of your assets will have pass according to the intestacy laws. Which means your family will go through expensive and time-consuming probate and the court will decide who will administer your estate and which of your relatives will get your money and property.
  • Without health directives, if you end up incapacitated, the court will appoint someone to make health decisions for you or may make you a “ward” of the state. You could end up lingering for years supported by feeding tubes.
  • If you are divorced and you die without making a new Will or executing new health directives, your ex-spouse could be the one to get all your property and make end-of-life decisions for you in some cases.
  1. Doing your estate plan yourself.

This mistake is almost as bad as mistake number 1 above.

Why?

Because of all the ways in which you can mess up your estate plan.

Keep in mind that this is a complicated area of law. Doing your estate plan yourself often leads to invalid Wills or expensive will contests. Or, you may simply forget to include assets like your digital assets, and/or expensive probate proceedings. Many times, people doing their own Wills put in invalid or illegal clauses. Or they fail to properly execute the document, rendering it completely useless.

This is not an area of law where you can just “do it yourself.” A good estate plan requires careful consideration of any number of variables. It also requires complying with the law’s requirements regarding execution of documents.

  1. Crossing out Bequests.

If you have a Will and you change your mind about a bequest, there is a formal procedure that must be followed in order to make that change valid. You can’t just cross out names or amounts and pencil in something new. Again, this is why you should never try to do your estate plan — or make any change to it— on your own.

Crossing out a bequest will not get you what you want. Generally, you will need to execute a codicil to make the change correctly.

Your estate plan is too important to leave things to chance or to your own creative thinking. Take the time to hire an experienced estate and probate attorney to avoid making the biggest mistake of your life.

Protecting Your Family is Just a Phone Call Away.

Don’t leave planning for your future and that of your loved ones to chance. All it takes is one phone call to the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well.  When you work with the estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. Call us at 954-580-3690 or email us at: [email protected] today.

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