Most people will do anything to avoid making mistakes, especially when those mistakes have the potential to be costly or cause struggle for those they love. Unfortunately, estate planning seems to be one area where many people make mistakes, and those errors do not always come to light until after someone has died. This often means loved ones end up with confusion and perhaps even litigation to resolve the conflicts the deceased unwittingly left behind.

If you are someone who prefers to learn from other people’s mistakes instead of making them yourself, you may find it interesting to hear about those all-too-common estate planning blunders that have the potential to create chaos for your loved ones.

Mistake number one

The most common and avoidable estate planning mistake is not to make a plan in the first place. Some procrastinate due to the fear of thinking about death. Others mistakenly think they are too young to need a will. In fact, only a small percentage of people execute wills before they die. A will not only expresses your wishes for how to distribute your assets, but it can also delegate a guardian for your minor children. This is a decision you will likely not want to leave to the courts.

Once you have a plan in place, it is a big mistake to think you can put it away and forget about it. It is critical to update your plan periodically, especially after a major life event such as a divorce, the loss or gain of assets, or the addition of children or grandchildren to your family. Failing to make these amendments can leave your loved ones with significant confusion. For example, if you remarry, you may not want your ex-spouse to remain an heir to your estate.

Have you thought of everything?

Another important mistake you want to avoid in your estate plan is failing to think beyond a will. Your estate plan can provide protections for you, such as powers of attorney, advance directives and living trusts. These and other estate planning tools can provide peace of mind that you have made your wishes clear if you should become unable to communicate because of illness or injury.

To reduce the chance of critical mistakes, those in New Hampshire who take the courageous step of creating an estate plan rely on experienced legal professionals for advice and guidance along the way. A skilled attorney can assist you in finding the most appropriate estate planning tools for your needs and maintaining your plan effectively for a lifetime.