For most people, estate planning is a sensitive matter because they need to think about death and incapacitation. However, the importance of having a Virginia estate plan cannot be overstated, though not everyone has one. According to a survey by Caring.com, only 42% of American adults had an estate plan in 2017.
Without an estate plan that details your wishes, your assets could end up in the wrong hands. That’s why it is critical to draft an estate plan to protect your property and prevent a family feud over your assets.
Estate planning can be very complicated, which is why many people end up making mistakes when attempting to create an estate plan on their own. That’s why you should consult with a Virginia estate planning attorney to assist you with drafting your estate planning documents and help you navigate the process to avoid mistakes.
Avoid these five mistakes when creating an estate plan in Virginia
These are some of the most common mistakes people make when attempting to create an estate plan without an experienced attorney.
- Not having all the necessary documents in place
Estate planning is much – much – more than just writing a will. A comprehensive estate plan is supposed to help you plan for the unexpected to protect you and your assets if you die or become incapacitated. Depending on your situation, an effective estate plan may contain a durable power of attorney, an advanced healthcare directive, a revocable or irrevocable trust, and many more. A skilled estate planning attorney will review your particular situation to determine which documents and right for you.
- Naming the wrong executor
The executor of your estate plays a significant role in the distribution of your assets and managing the affairs of your estate after your passing. Choosing an executor is a critical decision that should not be taken lightly. While many people name their spouse or one of their children as the executor, others prefer to choose someone outside their immediate family. In fact, you can even name a corporation to serve as a personal representative of your estate, but only as long as the company is authorized to do business in Virginia (Virginia Code § 64.2-1426).
- Not updating your estate plan regularly
Many people think that once they create an estate plan, it will work forever. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You need to review and update your estate planning documents regularly to ensure that they reflect the changes in your life. It may be a good idea to update your estate plan when major life events happen, including marriage or remarriage, the birth of a child or grandchild, divorce, and many more. Previously, we discussed the six reasons to review and update your estate plan.
- Not funding a revocable trust
A revocable trust will ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. If properly funded, a revocable trust allows your assets to avoid passing through probate. However, depending on your situation, you may benefit from holding property in your name rather than in the trust. According to Virginia Code § 64.2-624, your property may automatically pass to the trust or beneficiaries upon your death by a transfer on death (TOD) deed.
- Trying to create a DIY estate plan
Nowadays, you can find numerous websites and apps that allow you to create a do-it-yourself (DIY) estate plan from the comfort of your home. While the platforms offer you to draft legally enforceable estate planning documents for a small fee, using those online tools can be a big mistake.
You need to understand that DIY estate planning services offer a one-size-fits-all solution. They are not designed to create an estate plan that addresses all of your unique circumstances.
That’s why it is advised to speak with a Virginia estate planning attorney instead of using DIY tools to help you create an enforceable plan that would meet your unique goals and needs.
Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Shannon & Associates, P.C., serving the Virginia Beach area. Call (757) 228-5529 to discuss your particular situation.