We've talked a lot about why Florida residents need estate plans--those legal documents protect you and your heirs, and their benefits often begin during your lifetime. But estate planning documents such as trusts and wills can be complex. Can mistakes derail the progress and protection you think you've made? Yes, errors or failure to consider important matters during the estate planning process can cause issues later.
One mistake many people make, especially when they handle their own estate planning, is leaving a single lump sum to heirs. While this isn't a bad move on the surface, it's important to consider the implications of every estate decision. Who are you leaving the money to? Does that person have the ability to manage the money so that it makes a positive difference in his or her life? In one case, a man left a large sum to his son, who was a known heroin addict. The son used the entire sum within six months.
By incorporating a trust into your estate planning process, you can leave a large amount to heirs without giving them access to all of the money at one time. Understanding all your options for leaving assets to others helps you make decisions that are right for you and your heirs.
Another common mistake people make with regard to estate plans is taking a one-and-done approach. Estate plans should be updated throughout your life. When family structure changes due to events such as marriage, divorce, or birth, you might need to add or remove heirs. Your financial situation or future expectations also change over time, making it necessary to address new concerns in estate documents. Working with a professional over the long-term helps you draft and maintain estate documents that work for you.
Source: AARP, "4 Costly Estate-Planning Blunders," G. M. Filisko, accessed Oct. 16, 2015