5 Estate Planning Mistakes You Can Avoid Making

Most people acknowledge the need to have an estate plan, yet many people do not have one. If you have decided that it’s time to create your estate plan, you undoubtedly want to avoid making mistakes. With that in mind, a Murfreesboro estate planning attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses five estate planning mistakes you can avoid making.

  1. Procrastinating.  You may be one of those people who admits that having an estate plan in place is a good idea even though you have yet to get started on your plan. You may be under the mistaken impression that you need to reach a specific level of financial success before an estate plan is really necessary or that being single and without children means you won’t benefit from an estate plan. In truth, every adult, regardless of income, wealth, marital or familial status can benefit from estate planning. If for no other reason, you should have an estate plan in place to prevent the State of Tennessee from deciding what happens to the assets you do own (regardless of value) after you are gone. 
  2. DIY planning. Just because you can easily locate “do-it-yourself” estate planning forms online doesn’t mean you should rely on those forms. Every aspect of your estate plan is important and should be treated as such. That means you should not use generic forms that are frequently riddled with mistakes, omissions, and stale legal premises. It may seem as if you are saving money by going the DIY route; however, doing increases the likelihood of litigation when it comes time to probate your estate which will decrease the value of the estate you leave behind for loved ones. To ensure that your estate plan accurately reflects your needs and wishes and works as intended, work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
  3. Forgetting about incapacity. When you contemplate your estate plan, you likely focus on planning for your death. Your death, however, is not the only thing that you need to plan for in your estate plan. The odds of becoming incapacitated are higher than you probably think while you are young. When you enter your retirement years, those odds increase significantly and continue to increase each year. If you do become incapacitated, someone must step in and make decisions for you and control your estate assets either indefinitely or until you are able to do so once again. In the absence of an incapacity plan within your overall estate plan, a judge will decide who makes those decisions and who controls your assets.
  4. Appointing the wrong fiduciaries.  Your estate plan will likely include several fiduciary roles. In your Last Will and Testament, for example, you will need to appoint an Executor who will serve in a fiduciary position. If you incorporate a trust into your plan, The person you appoint as the Trustee will hold a fiduciary position. Avoid making the common mistake of appointing a spouse, friend, or family member to these positions without understanding what the position entails and contemplating the person’s suitability for the role.
  5. Failing to update.  While putting off creating an estate plan is probably the most common estate planning mistake, failing to update an existing plan is not far behind. In fact, forgetting to update your estate plan can have serious, unwanted consequences. Imagine, for example, how you would feel if you were to suddenly become incapacitated, and your former spouse is still named as your Agent in a healthcare Power of Attorney, meaning he/she has the legal authority to make healthcare decisions for you. To avoid making this mistake, schedule a review of your existing estate plan every three to five years or immediately if a significant life event warrants an immediate update.

Contact a Murfreesboro Estate Planning Attorney 

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to avoid making estate planning mistakes, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro estate planning attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Stan Bennett