Common Estate Planning Mistakes

End-of-life planning is an emotionally challenging process. Without the aid of an experienced estate planning attorney, you may fall into some common pitfalls without realizing their harm.

Thinking you don’t have an estate

Some think only the very wealthy have an estate, but this is untrue. Everyone has an estate, and everyone’s estate plans will differ based on their individual needs. Common elements of an estate plan can range from a person’s post-death plans for their body to plans for their home to their vehicle. Even digital assets need to be included in a comprehensive estate plan.

Thinking you don’t need estate planning documents

Everyone has an estate, so everyone needs estate planning documents. This is not just your last will and testament, although that’s important, too! Documents that name a durable power of attorney—someone who is authorized to make financial decisions in the event you become incapacitated—or documents that lay out your healthcare plans and preferences are just some key parts of a thorough estate plan.

Thinking beneficiary designations are sufficient

Unfortunately, our beneficiary designations do not always go to plan. Beneficiaries may pass or circumstances could change, which would leave your estate afloat.

Thinking beneficiaries will follow your directions

In the same vein as #3, the beneficiaries you do name may not carry out your directions. Many individuals leave all assets to once child and hope the child will distribute the assets to their other children in the way the parent intended. Unfortunately, this does not always pan out this way. Setting up more formal beneficiary plans is key to executing your wishes.

Thinking you don’t need to probate a will

It’s true that all wills do not have to go through probate in Texas. However, planning for this is unlikelihood is a misstep. Only estates with no real property, debt, or contests that have completely satisfactory beneficiary designations for all accounts can avoid probate. All others must go through the court.

Mixing up POAs and Wills

Powers of attorney (POAs) and wills may seem similar, but they aren’t the same and both are needed. A POA protects you and your assets during your lifetime, but a will protects you and your assets after your passing.

Choosing an executor based on emotional reasons over rational ones

An executor ensures your wishes are carried out after your death. This person is in charge of everything: filing your will, paying your debts, closing your accounts and distributing your assets. While we may want our closest loved ones involved with these intimate end of life processes, choosing someone trustworthy and organized is the most important.

Not choosing a decisionmaker

Unfortunately, estate planning includes anticipating contests or a fight. Giving all beneficiaries equal power can exacerbate these arguments. Choosing one beneficiary as a final decisionmaker can ease this headache.

You Need a Houston Estate Planning Attorney

Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you’re worried you’re making critical estate planning mistakes, call McCulloch Miller, PLLC. The attorneys at McCulloch Miller, PLLC can walk you through every step of your estate planning journey. Our team will make the process of protecting you and your family as straightforward and simple as possible. Contact our office at 713-936-9073 to schedule an initial consultation with an attorney on our team.

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