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Providence: 401-421-7500 | Narragansett: 401-789-1800

How can I avoid common estate planning mistakes?

Having a solid estate plan in place offers great peace of mind to both you and your family. However, it’s important that your plan is valid and legally binding, otherwise you run the risk of ending up in probate court. To help you and your legal team craft a reliable estate plan, The Street offers the following advice.

Make sure your documents are organized

Getting a handle on all of your assets can be a complicated process. While you may have the necessary documentation for your home and vehicles, things like life insurance policies, financial accounts, and retirement plans may be harder to come by. If you have access to this information online, make sure you keep a master list of usernames and passwords so the person overseeing your estate can access them after you’re gone. Also, make sure that any paper documents you have are secure, especially if you keep them at your home.

Know how beneficiary designations work

Say you want to leave the proceeds of a life insurance policy to one of your children. Simply putting this information into your will does not suffice in most cases. You must also designate the person on the account or insurance policy to ensure your final wishes are honored. Beneficiary designations override any other estate planning documents, no matter how well they’re executed. As a result, ownership of your assets could be decided by the court.

Be sure to update your plan

Revisiting your plan every few years or so is a must. This is especially important after a major life change, such as a new marriage or divorce. Updating your plans will ensure they continue to meet your needs by reflecting your current family situation. If you die with an outdated estate plan in place, chances are your family will contest it, which will lead to a costly and prolonged probate hearing.

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