1) Lack of Health Care and Disability Planning. Most deaths occur in hospitals or other institutions. Patients may be incapacitated to the point where they can no longer communicate their health care wishes. During current times with COVID-19 this is a concern that is real for every single one of us. Advance Health Care Directives appoint your health care decision-makers, and specify wishes for end-of-life care. Every person over the age of 18 should have one.
2) No will or living trust. Without proper planning, your estate may be tied up in probate court for months or years after your death at a great emotional and financial cost to your family.
3) Lack of attention to digital assets. Without a plan for digital assets and social media, you may lose critical documents, photos, memories, and family records. Your family may not have any ability to access your online accounts.
4) Lack of attention to your children’s possible future divorces or lawsuits. It’s not fun to think about, but if your children divorce or are sued at some point in the future, their inheritance may be decimated and end up in the hands of those you never intended. A trust can help protect your legacy and your children’s inheritance.
5) Lack of attention to the conscious transfer of family values. Comprehensive estate planning can include family meetings, a family mission statement, and custom planning for children. Letters of intent can help your family members with a better understanding of your wishes.
6) Chaotic record-keeping. Good planning is essential to make sure your heirs do not spend months or years trying to make sense of what you left behind. A comprehensive estate plan provides you with a framework for maintaining your vital legal and financial records. Nothing is worse and more stressful than having to sort through boxes and files after your loved one has passed away to determine what they own and owe.
7) Surviving spouse creditors and predators. If your surviving spouse remarries and then divorces, your estate could end up in the hands of people you never intended. Likewise, if your surviving spouse is victimized by financial predators – something increasingly common as the population ages – your family may discover too late that your legacy is gone. A trust can ensure family money stays in and benefits the family.
8) Family feuds over sentimental items. This problem can be avoided with a Personal Property Memorandum, which can account for tangible items like artwork, family heirlooms, and jewelry. In addition to the financial assets, your plan should include careful consideration of important family items.
9) HIPAA privacy lockout. If incapacity leaves you unable to communicate, family members—even your spouse—may not be able to access your medical records because of HIPAA privacy rules. Executing a HIPAA authorization ensures access to medical information for those individuals who you want to have access.
10) Outdated Estate Plan. You may have a will and estate plan already. Does it reflect your current circumstances, goals, and needs? A comprehensive review by an estate planner ensures that your estate plan reflects your current situation, desires, and needs.