Avoid These Easy Ways to Mess Up Your Estate Plan

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Avoid These Easy Ways to Mess Up Your Estate Plan

Creating an estate plan is not rocket science. But, attention to detail does matter. Missing a step or misstating something in your estate planning documents can have unintended consequences later. Avoid these common estate planning errors, so you can have confidence knowing your estate should pass the way you want it to when you die.

avoid messing up your estate plan

  • Failing to “fund” your Trust. Don’t make the mistake of creating a detailed Trust document but then not putting anything into it. Creating a Trust agreement that names a trustee and spells out your wishes is a great first step, but you also need to retitle assets into the Trust or adjust beneficiary designations so assets will flow through the Trust when you die. Your estate planning attorney can provide advice, recommendations, and support with Trust funding.
  • Forgetting about beneficiary designations. There is a common misconception that when you create a Will or a Trust, all of your assets flow according to the terms you’ve put in writing. The reality is that assets with named beneficiaries, like retirement accounts, annuities, and life insurance, pass according to the written beneficiary designations on file with the financial organization or insurer – regardless what your Will or Trust says. Your lawyer can help you review your designations to make sure your assets pass the way you intend.
  • Keeping your plans secret. It is OK to be tight-lipped about the specifics of your estate plan. You are not under any requirement to share your plans with children or other beneficiaries. However, it is critical that you let your named personal representative and trustee know where they can find your estate plan, should they need it, and let them know if you update your documents in the future.
  • Failing to plan. Finally, don’t make the mistake too many people make by putting off their estate planning. Promising to complete your Will, Trust, and other documents “someday” could mean you’re putting them off forever. Your estate plan is not carved in stone and can be updated as your situation changes. Start by documenting your wishes today, and adjust as needed.


If you are ready to start your estate planning or need to update your existing plan, we can help. Contact The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center today!