It’s tempting to put off estate planning for as long as possible—after all, no one likes to think about their loved ones going on without them. However, planning for the future is a vital part of making sure those you leave behind are cared for. Often, even people with a large amount of assets neglect to create an estate plan, resulting in a lengthy probate process that could have been avoided. Here are a few of the most common mistakes people make when estate planning, and how to avoid the same pitfalls.
Not Creating an Estate Plan
The largest error of all is not putting an estate plan in place. In the absence of a will, assets are distributed to relatives according to New York intestacy laws, which could contradict your wishes. Young adults are the most likely to put off creating a will or designating power of attorney, but unfortunately accidents can happen that result in incapacitation at any age. Even if your assets are relatively modest, it is still worthwhile to consult a probate lawyer about putting a plan in place to ensure that they are distributed according to your desires.
Only Making a Last Will and Testament
If your only estate planning document is a will, it is likely that certain circumstances are not covered. For example, you may have a will in place stating that all assets should go to your spouse in the event of your death. However, if you created a 401(k) before marriage with one of your parents listed as the beneficiary, the proceeds of the account would go to your parent even though you probably intended for your spouse to have the money. An estate planning lawyer can help you update the paperwork so your estate plan reflects your current wishes.
Likewise, you might wish to put assets in trust in order to avoid probate. Property placed in trust passes directly to the named beneficiary without having to go through probate court, saving time and money. A probate attorney can tell you what you need to know about the differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts, and advise you about which one is best for your situation.
Doing It All Yourself
Online services make it easier than ever to create your own will, but there are a few things you should consider before choosing this option. Estate plans you can make through online options are likely to be one-size-fits-all solutions, and if you have special considerations like a complex estate or concerns about potential disputes, you should consult with a local New York estate planning lawyer. If you have a simple estate and decide to use this method to create a will, it is still a good idea to get help from an attorney when creating other important estate planning documents.
Whether you’re just getting started or expanding your estate plan, Queens probate lawyer Richard Cary Spivack can give you the guidance you need to plan for the future.