As much as you don’t like to think about it, eventually you’re going to pass on, leaving this world and all your friends, family and possessions. Having an estate plan for this inevitable eventuality is crucial in alleviating the stress of your beneficiaries and heirs as they sort through your estate trying to understand what is passed on to whom.
Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous. It can be difficult to understand the various procedures and rules involved, and an estate planning lawyer can help you understand the intricacies of this important topic. Without one, it’s easy to make costly mistakes.
- The biggest and most common mistake is one you probably already guessed: not setting up an estate plan in the first place. A well thought out plan for what may happen after your death is one of the most crucial things you can do to make sure your affairs are in order when the inevitable occurs. Everyone 18 and older should have an estate plan set up.
- Another common mistake is not naming a beneficiary or not updating that beneficiary consistently. If you fail to designate a beneficiary, your assets usually go, by default, to your estate which can be subject to probate, creditors, delays, etc. If you fail to review and update beneficiaries, this could lead to disastrous results such as estates going to ex-spouses or estranged relatives.
- Noting and documenting your digital assets, like bank account passwords, social media passwords, cloud-based accounts, basically your online life, is vitally important in a proper 21st-century estate plan. According to a Pew Research study, the average American has over 25 online accounts. These all count as real assets, just like physical ones, and should continuously be reviewed and updated in the event of an unexpected death.
- Are you planning on traveling anytime soon? Time for an estate update! Accidents can happen when you venture out of your normal life like plane crashes, sinking boats, car accidents, or skiing and snowboarding accidents. There’s nothing worse than a freak accident occurring and your loved ones being left with an estate plan that’s either not prepared or out of date in addition to their grief.
- Don’t forget your pets! Pets are considered personal property, and if you don’t have them in your estate plan, they’ll be dumped into a shelter somewhere or euthanized! If you’d prefer, you can set up a pet trust allowing money to be set aside for their medical bills or other needs.
- Choosing the wrong person to handle your estate is one of the most common mistakes. You may think the executor of your estate should be a child, other loved one, or close family friend, but it may be better to choose someone not personally invested, like an estate planning lawyer you trust, to handle your assets objectively. Accidentally leaving friends or family out of wills or tearing the family apart over vague estate decisions happen all too often.
Estate Planning Lawyers in Canoga Park
If you are thinking about starting or updating an estate plan, contact the estate planning lawyers at Leiva Law Firm right away. We will help you understand the issues and how to resolve them in your best interest.