Common Estate Planning Mistakes Among the Elderly

As the baby boomer generation begins to face retirement it becomes all the more necessary to ensure that their needs at met. One of things that many people overlook or simply forget all together is estate planning. But make no mistake. This is a need and one that should be dealt with sooner rather than later. To ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish and things like taxes and debts are dealt with accordingly it’s extremely important for this process to be clear and legally binding. However, estate planning can become complicated the more assets you accrue and ultimately people make mistakes. Here are the five most common oversights of estate planning to avoid.

  1. Not completing one – Thinking about your own death can be a morbid and unpleasant thing and a natural want is to ignore it. But if you pass away without any estate documentation it becomes the court’s job to sort it all out. Typically this means that your spouse will get everything, including your debt and a hefty inheritance tax.
  2.  Not using an estate planning attorney – The legal process of wills and estates is complicated, especially if you have a particularly large and complex estate. To avoid a difficult aftermath and familial discord and in-fighting make it as iron-clad as possible by using legal professionals.
  3. Keeping it all to yourself – Writing out a will and leaving it in a drawer to be found after your death is inefficient and not legally binding. Just because you’ve put your wishes in writing doesn’t mean that those left behind will respect it so let your family know what you’re up to and make an appointment with an attorney to iron out all of the details.
  4. Forgetting to update it – This is a common problem with divorce and in the case of the elderly, death of a spouse. If you have left your estate to a loved one who is either out of the picture or has passed before you there can be major problems dividing your estate amicably. Anytime there is a significant life change, like a divorce or death of a loved one, update your will.
  5. Ignoring taxes – Any debt that remains after you die will be deducted from your estate. If you have overlooked this fact then your loved ones will not receive the pieces of the estate that you have designated. The tax man will.

One of the most responsible things to do when we grow older is to plan ahead. We plan for our kids to attend college, and we plan for retirement. There’s no reason for it to stop there. Be proactive and protect the family you love through estate planning.

This article was written on behalf of Smith Gilliam Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta law firm located in Georgia. SGWM Firm specializes in everything from mediation to family law and has been providing exceptional service to their clients for decades.