According to a recent survey, 67% of Americans don’t have estate plans. This may not seem like a big deal, but having an estate plan in place helps you manage and distribute your assets after your death, providing your loved ones with financial and emotional support.
Not Naming Contingent Beneficiaries
So you named a primary beneficiary in your estate plan. What happens if they pass away before you do? Who will be entitled to your assets in this scenario?
Naming contingent beneficiaries (secondary beneficiaries) can resolve this issue. It allows you to name the person or people you want to receive your assets if the primary beneficiary cannot claim them. It also prevents a long legal battle your loved ones may otherwise have to fight, ensuring it’s clear who your assets should go to if the primary beneficiary dies.
Not Including Burial and Funeral Wishes
Don’t forget to specify your burial and funeral wishes in your estate plan! Many people neglect to mention how they wish to be attended to after they’ve passed, leaving their loved ones confused and worried.
Here’s the thing: your family and friends will already be dealing with a loss. You don’t want to add to their worries by causing arguments or disagreements over the type of funeral they should arrange. It’s highly advised you specific your wishes in your estate plan. Include a section mentioning if you want to be buried or cremated, along with any funeral plans you have in mind. This will make things much easier for your loved ones as they grieve your loss.
Choosing an Unfit Executer
Finally, many people make the mistake of choosing the wrong person to handle their estate after they’re gone. Selecting an executor isn’t something you should take lightly. After all, you want to ensure your estate and assets are being taken good care of, and this means choosing the most suitable person to manage your affairs.
Some people assign the responsibility to their surviving spouse or a family member. While this may seem like the obvious choice at first, ask yourself if they can actually handle the complex financial distribution, investments, and various aspects of the probate process. If they don’t have the knowledge or experience with these legal matters, they may not be the best option.
You also want to avoid choosing someone who is likely to disagree with your decisions, has given you a reason to think they won’t fulfill the terms of your estate plan, or who you fear may use the funds for their own purposes. This can be a family member, a friend, or someone you had hired for the job. Make sure you discuss all your options with your estate planning attorney to choose the right person to execute your estate plan.
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