Posted on April 26, 2018 in

Avoid These Three Common Estate Planning Mistakes

By Peter C. Golotko, CPA/PFS, MBA, and Matthew Treskovich, CPA/PFS, MBA, CFP®, CMA

People often think estate planning is only for the wealthy. Actually, just about everyone who owns property or has money needs an estate plan. Estate planning is more than deciding what happens to your property when you’re gone. It also includes the planning during your life that leads to creating and safeguarding assets like your retirement savings. Estate planning is an important part of protecting your financial security.

Mistake #1 – “I don’t need an estate plan.”

An estate plan is not only about what you leave behind, it also determines what happens when you are still alive and become unable to make decisions for yourself. Documents like living wills, medical directives, should be part of your estate plan. These documents allow you to specify in advance what happens and who makes decisions if you become disabled. If you don’t decide what you want to happen, someone else will be making the decisions for you.

Mistake #2 – “I don’t have an estate plan.”

Do you think you don’t have an estate plan? Everyone who dies with property in the State of Florida has an estate plan. If you haven’t taken the time to prepare your own plan, the state legislature has one waiting for you. Often the plan the legislature has prepared isn’t the right one for your beneficiaries. Things can be even more confusing if you leave property in several states without a clear plan for what happens to those investments.

Mistake #3 – “I’ll work on my estate plan later.”

The best time to work on your estate plan is right now. Estate planning requires making decisions and having legal documents drafted to implement your plan. If you become disabled, you may not be able to make these decisions yourself. Part of the estate planning process is to decide who will take care of you, manage your finances and make healthcare decisions when you are no longer able. You will need to sign legal documents that will allow that person to act on your behalf. If you don’t prepare these documents in advance, the result could be a lengthy legal battle for your family.

Estate planning is a team effort. You’ll need an attorney to draft the documents. You may need advice from other professionals like your accountant or insurance agent. Often your financial planner will be in the best position to coordinate the planning process. CPA / Personal Financial Specialist and Accredited Estate Planner® are two of the premier credentials in estate planning. If you haven’t done your estate planning yet, there’s no time like the present! Contact a qualified advisor and get started today.