All too often, individuals do not take the appropriate steps to protect their loved ones and plan for the future after they have passed away. However, even those individuals who spend some time developing an estate plan often make some mistakes that can greatly decrease the effectiveness of the plan. The best advice is to avoid the most common mistakes in estate planning by consulting an experienced Aiken estate planning lawyer about estate planning issues and working with him or her to develop a comprehensive estate plan that addresses all of your needs.
DON’T Do It Yourself
In this age of YouTube, Pinterest, and interactive websites, everyone tends to think that they can become an expert in anything. The Internet is full of legal self-help websites, fill-in-the-blank forms, and videos that can make you think that you don’t need a lawyer to help you with estate planning. After all, you can pay $50 for that do-it-yourself will service and end up with a will that is valid in all 50 states, right? Wrong.
There is simply no substitution for legal advice by an established professional who can properly guide you through the steps of making an estate plan that meets your needs. The paperwork that you can find online may or may not meet the requirements of South Carolina law in order to be a valid will or trust document. If your documents end up being legally invalid, your surviving family members may encounter great difficulty and expense in trying to transfer property or carry out your wishes as to your remaining assets. Avoid this pitfall by have an experienced attorney draft your paperwork in order to ensure that it is legally valid.
DO Plan Ahead for Incapacity
Many people have very strong feelings about who will handle their affairs if they become incapacitated, who will make medical decisions for them if they are unable to do so, and what life-sustaining measures that they want taken in the event of incapacity. If you fail to execute the appropriate documents in order to do so, however, you risk leaving your family members to make difficult decisions on which they may not be able to agree and not having your true wishes carried out. In order to avoid this common estate planning mistake, take the time to consider how you want decisions made and whom you want to make them in the event of your incapacity caused by illness or injury. Among the documents that you should explore are a living will, which determines the circumstances under which you will receive life-sustaining medical treatment, a durable power of attorney, which gives another individual the power to act on your behalf with respect to financial affairs and related matter, and a healthcare power of attorney, which allows another to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so.
DON’T Neglect to Update Your Estate Plan
In many cases, individuals execute a detailed estate plan and then never change it years later, even when a loved one dies, marriage, divorce, or remarriage occurs, and children are born. Major life events such as these tend to directly impact your estate plans, especially in terms of beneficiary designations and persons whom you have named in your estate plan to carry out your wishes. It is useless to have a durable power of attorney that names your ex-husband as power of attorney in the event of incapacity. Not only would this give your ex power that you probably don’t want him to have, but it also is likely to upset your current husband or children. This is just one example of how failing to update your estate plan can lead to disastrous results.
Contact Surasky Law Firm for Your Estate Planning Needs
When it comes to protecting your family’s financial future and your own wishes concerning incapacity in the future, you cannot afford to have invalid legal documents. Save your family considerable difficulty and expense in the future, and ensure that you have a valid estate plan in place that covers all necessary issues. Contact the Surasky Law Firm today at 1-803-593-3912 and learn how we can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan and avoid the most common estate planning errors.