When people begin the estate planning process, they often worry about making mistakes and the problems this could cause down the line. And it is true, when Texans have errors in their estate plan—or do not recognize something is a mistake and purposefully include it—there can be long-term consequences for loved ones attempting to execute the will after the person has passed away. Thankfully, many common estate planning mistakes can be avoided by careful consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. Below are common estate planning errors and how they can be prevented.
Failing to Name Beneficiaries
In drafting an estate plan, some individuals will forget one of the most critical aspects: naming beneficiaries to inherit their assets after they pass away. While they may name beneficiaries for certain, obvious, assets like property or personal items, they may forget for other financial benefits like retirement plans and life insurance policies. It is just as important to decide upon a beneficiary for these financial accounts too in order to avoid the probate court process. Otherwise, a judge will determine who will receive these policies—and it is often the closest blood relative, regardless of the personal relationship the deceased and the person may have had.
Not Explicitly Providing Assets to Children
Especially in blended families and second marriages, individuals will forget to explicitly provide assets to their children—instead, giving it all to their current spouse. While in an overwhelming majority of cases the spouse will then financially assist the children in the future—even if they are not their own children—estate planning attorneys still recommend leaving assets to the children themselves, just in case. For example, even if the surviving spouse knew the deceased wanted them to use some of the money to assist the deceased’s children, if there are not protections in the will, there is nothing requiring them to do so. But if the children are named as beneficiaries or provided their own assets, then they will be more financially secure and not have to worry about any changes the surviving spouse may make in the future.
Because it is difficult for someone creating their first estate plan to know all of the common mistakes made during the process, individuals should contact an experienced estate planning attorney as they begin to draft their estate plan. While they may be hesitant to pay for an estate planning attorney’s advice, this can save money in the long run by avoiding costly future errors.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one needs assistance creating an estate plan—or would like to ensure there are no mistakes in your current estate plan—contact the attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Estate planning is often a very meticulous and tiny errors can have a dramatic impact. Because our attorneys have decades of experience drafting and reviewing a diverse group of estate planning documents, they will make sure that your plan meets your needs and does not fall into one of the common mistakes and pitfalls. To schedule a free, initial consultation and to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, give us a call today at 713-333-8900.