Older woman working on her estate plan

How to Avoid Estate Planning Mistakes

The two most important mistakes you can make when it comes to estate planning are [1] not engaging in the process at all and [2] not using a skilled, well-versed estate planning attorney to complete the task. 

It is easy to see the downside of not planning for the future at all, but let’s take a look at why estate planning should not be a do-it-yourself project. If you compare estate planning to other services requiring specialized knowledge, training, and skill — e.g. electrical wiring, plumbing, brain surgery — you will realize that they all demand experience and know-how that most of us don’t have. Using a sharp estate planning attorney is the first step to take to avoid making costly mistakes.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., we help clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod create estate plans tailored to fit their specific needs, always being careful to avoid the following mistakes which can result in financial harm and emotional distress.

1. Failing to Protect Assets 

Our capable asset protection attorneys know several strategies designed to protect your assets from from: 

  • Costly probate
  • Excessive Taxation
  • Predatory Lenders
  • Scams
  • Long-term medical costs
  • Personal injury lawsuits

We are adept at creating irrevocable trusts to, for example, protect resources for a special needs child while maintaining their eligibility for government benefits. We are also ready to create business structures, e.g. LLCs, to provide protection of your personal assets if your business is sued, and other trusts that have the advantage of removing your assets from your ownership.

2. Failing to Update Your Estate Plan When Necessary

Major life events, like the following, make it critical that you make alterations to your estate plan in terms of naming new beneficiaries, not only in you will, but on your insurance policies or retirement accounts, or perhaps naming a new executor:

  • Birth
  • Adoption
  • Marriage
  • Divorce 
  • Remarriage
  • Death
  • Change in family dynamics
  • Relocation to another state
  • Major illness, injury or incapacity

Working with one of our estate planning attorney guarantees that your estate plan will be updated at regular intervals or whenever a life-changing event takes place. More than that, having a well-informed estate planning attorney ensures that your estate planning documents will reflect any changes in tax or inheritance laws.

3. Leaving Assets to a Beneficiary Who Is Unable to Manage Money

It is painfully short-sighted to leave a large inheritance to a minor child or grandchild who cannot yet handle funds without setting up a protective trust with a responsible trustee. By the same token, it is too easy to deny that someone you love has an ongoing problem with money. 

A competent estate planning lawyer will guide you through the process of creating a spendthrift trust to provide a loved one who is addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling or shopping with resources but protect those assets from being frittered away.

4. Not Preparing for Incapacity or Long-Term Care

It is hard enough to think about mortality, but it may be even harder to consider the possibility of becoming incapacitated physically or mentally. Nonetheless, the majority of Americans over the age of 65 will require long-term care at some point. 

Because of the exorbitant cost of such care, very few people will be able to afford years of nursing home care or private in-home nursing care without MassHealth/Medicaid assistance. Our elder care attorneys are extraordinarily well-prepared to protect your assets so that you can retain eligibility for government assistance if it should become necessary.  

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys Today

The best way to avoid estate planning mistakes in Southeastern Massachusetts is to work with one of our highly qualified attorneys. We have been in this line of work for a long time and are well-aware of pitfalls of improper wording, oversights, and failures to make necessary changes. Contact Surprenant & Beneski now to make certain your estate plan does what it is supposed to do — protect your assets and your loved ones from whatever challenges lie ahead.