If you choose to go it alone in estate planning, you run the risk of making at least one of these estate-planning mistakes:
Naming your estate as a beneficiary
When it comes to life insurance, qualified retirement plans and annuities, you can name one or more persons to be the recipients of the death benefit. That way you can bypass estate administration and probate court. But many people name their estate as a beneficiary, perhaps thinking that they will sort it all out later and then change it. If they do not change it, these assets will incur probate costs, will be available as public information via probate, will be part of the funds that can be subject to the claims of creditors, and the payout will be delayed for six months and often much longer. And, if anyone successfully challenges the will, these assets could go to unintended heirs. All this may be avoided by naming persons as beneficiaries. Far better to do so immediately and change those designations from time to time, if appropriate.
Getting bad advice
The professional guidance given to your best friend or brother-in-law may not fit your situation. So, do not mimic their documents through a do-it-yourself form taken from a book or web site. Get a lawyer’s advice on legal matters.
Life insurance plays an important role in estate planning. It can help cover final expenses, pay off debt and provide replacement income for your family members. Don’t underestimate the importance of this valuable estate planning tool, but it needs to be used properly to see the benefits to your estate plan.
Work with an estate planning attorney to make sure you avoid these common errors that we see when people choose to go it alone in estate planning.