Online Athens: I want to highlight some of the most common estate planning mistakes I think people routinely make (knowing that I can’t possibly cover them all in one column). You will notice that I’m not going to discuss the estate tax beyond saying that very few people are subject to it and that it can be effectively managed by an attorney and financial planner with expertise.
In my experience, No. 1 and No. 3 are the root causes of the other issues.
1. Failure to plan: I am constantly surprised to see how many people do not have basic estate planning documents in place. The statistics consistently say more than 50 percent of Americans do not have a will, so if you happen to have one, the odds are that one of your neighbors does not.
Estate planning is another one of those areas in financial planning that plays to our desire to procrastinate. The only immediate payoff we have to getting the core documents in place is to quiet that inner voice that constantly says, “I need to take care of this.”
With proper planning, many negative consequences such as not passing your assets as you wish, strained family relationships and even a lawsuit can be avoided.
Simply stated, dying without a will is easy, but picking up the pieces afterward is not. On the other hand, getting a basic will in place should not be complicated.