Top 5 Estate Planning Errors & How to Avoid Them

Making mistakes in the estate planning process can cost you, as well as your loved ones, in a big way. To help you avoid these unnecessary (and possibly expensive) errors, here is a list of the most common estate planning mistakes to steer clear of when you are serious about protecting your loved ones and your legacy via your estate plan.

Mistake 1: Failing to Plan

Estate plans and wills can be morbid to consider – and can be easy to put off developing, especially day-to-day work and needs are consuming your attention.

The problem with procrastinating estate planning, however, is that you can end up leaving no instructions or details for:

  • Your end-of-life care and wishes
  • What should be done if you are ever incapacitated
  • Who should care for your minor children (after you pass)
  • How your personal assets should be distributed to your heirs (after you pass).

This can leave your loved ones (and the court) trying to figure out what you would have wanted – and when the court needs to get involved, the costs of resolving the issue(s) will usually increase.

Mistake 2: Not Updating Your Will

Developing a will is just one aspect of the estate planning process. Revisiting and reviewing/updating the will (as needed) is another crucial step. This is because, as months and years pass, your assets – as well as your relationships and your wishes for the future – may change and evolve.

If something happens to you and your will is not up-to-date, parts (or the entire thing) can be declared invalid.

So, the bottom line here is that, anytime you experience a major life change (such as a new marriage, a divorce, or a birth) – and at least once every year, you’ll want to revisit your will and estate plan and update them (when necessary).

Mistake 3: Overlooking the Benefits of Setting Up a Trust

A trust can provide some unique benefits to estate plans, allowing grantors (i.e., the person who has devised the will/estate plan) to set up special parameters for how and when certain assets are distributed to beneficiaries. In fact, some of the general (and primary) benefits associated with trusts include that these devices:

  • Can limit (if not preclude) the need for probate
  • Can protect certain beneficiaries (like minor children, heirs with special needs, etc.)
  • Can minimize estate tax obligations
  • Can ensure that specific assest go to  specific beneficiaries (rather than to creditors, etc.).

So, be sure to take some time to assess how and whether trusts can benefit you and your loved ones. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you don’t need a trust.

Mistake 4: Appointing the Wrong Executor or Personal Representative

The “wrong” executor or personal representative can be anyone who is not:

  • Available to administer the estate
  • Responsible and reliable
  • Organized and diligent
  • Trustworthy and unbiased.

With the wrong person serving as your executor (or personal representative), other costly mistakes can be made, likely compromising the interests of your beneficiaries.

So be sure to carefully consider who you appoint to this role – and be sure to select at least one or two alternative options (in case your top option is not available when it’s time to settle your estate).

Contact a Pueblo Estate Planning Lawyer at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth

When you are ready to develop, revise or administer an estate plan in Colorado, it’s time to contact a trusted Pueblo estate planning lawyer at Gradisar, Trechter, Ripperger & Roth. Since 1972, our Pueblo lawyers have been dedicated to helping our clients navigate the complexities of estate planning, probate, and other important legal matters.

Call (719) 556- 8844 or email us using the contact form on this page to set up an initial consultation and learn more about how we can assist and serve you.

From offices located in Pueblo, we represent clients throughout the state of Colorado.