Couple discussing their estate plan with attorney

Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Estate planning puts important legal tools in place that can provide serious protections for you and your family. While estate planning can provide critical benefits for you and the ones you loved, estate planning the right way is very important. There are several mistakes people make in estate planning that can be avoided, especially if you are aware of these potential missteps in the first place. Let us take a look at some of the more common estate planning mistakes you should take care to avoid.

Avoid These Common Estate Planning Mistakes

One of the biggest and most common estate planning mistakes is not to have an estate plan at all. Far too many people do not even have the most basic estate planning documents in place, such as a will. Without a will, you pass away intestate and your estate will be disbursed according to state intestacy laws, which may not be according to the way you would have wanted things to be distributed. You also miss out on the opportunity to name a guardian for any of your minor children and you do not get to choose who will serve as personal representative of your estate.

While it is difficult, if not impossible, to plan for every possible hurdle life may throw in your way, the best estate plans tackle the unexpected things in life as best as possible. For instance, does your estate plan consider what would happen should you ever become incapacitated? This means that your estate plan should include a durable financial power of attorney that will grant a trusted individual to manage your financial affairs. The durability feature means that the power survives any incapacitation on the part of the principal, you. Additionally, you should have a health care surrogate in place naming a trusted individual that will make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate these wishes for yourself. A living will should be considered as well because it outlines your end of life care wishes in terminal care situations.

Your plan should also have backups, or contingency plans. This means selecting alternates for important roles of responsibility such as powers of attorney, trustees, health care surrogates, and personal representatives. There may come a time when the person initially named is unwilling or unable to serve. This is why you should always name an alternate. Also, be sure that you talk to those named to take on roles of responsibilities. Far too many people fail to do this and the person they name ends up not wanting to take on the responsibility.

Failing to update an estate plan is also a far too common mistake that is made. In order for an estate plan to most accurately reflect your wishes, it should be consistently updated, especially in light of major life events such as births, death, marriages, and divorces in the family. Such big life moments can have a substantial impact on things such as beneficiary designations and who you wish to name in roles of responsibilities, such as those previously discussed. Failure to keep your estate plan updated can easily result in an estate plan that does not reflect truly what you want for yourself, your assets, and your loved ones.

Estate Planning Attorneys

To avoid common estate planning mistakes and secure an estate plan that will best protect your wishes for yourself and your loved ones, talk to the knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at CDH Law. Contact us today.

Old woman in a wheelchair

The Importance of Health Care Directives in Your Estate Plan

Estate planning means so much more than drafting a will. There are other estate planning legal tools that are critical to protecting you and your family. For instance, health care directives are an important part of establishing a comprehensive estate plan that maximizes the protections available to you. Health care directives are legally binding documents that address what should happen to you regarding medical treatment should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your own wishes. Everyone should have health care directives in place. These vital legal tools are not just for the elderly or those with existing medical issues. They are for everyone. That is because anyone can suddenly fall ill or be involved in a devastating accident. Health care directives help you plan for the life events you cannot plan for.

The Importance of Health Care Directives in Your Estate Plan

There are several types of advance health care directives you can include in your estate plan. A health care proxy is one such directive type. In a health care proxy form, you designate a person who will be empowered to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to communicate your own wishes. Think about this. The person you designate as your health care proxy will act as your agent. They will make choices regarding who treats you, where you are treated, and what type of treatment you receive. Acting as a health care proxy is a huge responsibility and putting this legal document in place on your own can be a weight off of your shoulders. 

Having a health care proxy in place means that you are empowered to select this trusted individual. You can talk to the person you select as your proxy beforehand and discuss your values and opinions regarding healthcare and treatment options. You will get peace of mind knowing your health care choices will always be in the best hands. The more you talk to your health care proxy about your wishes and what other health care directives you have in place, the better they can handle the task of making sure your own health care wishes are enforced.

Another important health care directive to put into place is a living will. A living will can be as concise or as detailed as you wish. It is meant to outline your wishes regarding end of life medical care. It can direct your treating health care professionals regarding what medical interventions and life-prolonging treatment you would want or not want to receive should it be necessary to make these decisions on your behalf. Think about what types of medical treatment you may have an opposition to, either morally, religiously, or just personally. Memorialize your wishes in a living will. Then you can know that your doctors will always have guidance on your wishes. Your family and loved ones will not be left guessing what you would have wanted, a terribly difficult decision to be in.

New York Estate Planning Attorneys

Don’t wait to put a comprehensive estate plan in place. It provides important legal protections for you and your loved ones. The team of trusted estate planning attorneys at CDH Law is here to help see that you maximize the many and varied benefits of estate planning. Contact us today.