It can be a rocky road to getting your Estate Plan in order —let’s delve into the most common
estate planning mistakes, their implications, and some strategies to avoid them.
1. Failing to Update Your Plan
The Mistake: Not revisiting your estate plan can lead to outdated information that no longer
reflects your current situation.
The Impact: Out-of-date plans may include former spouses, omit new family members, or
no longer align with your financial situation, leading to family disputes and assets not going
The Solution: Regularly review and update your estate plan, especially after major life
events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or significant financial changes.
2. Not Planning for the Death of a Beneficiary
The Mistake: Assuming beneficiaries will outlive you can cause chaos if they pass away
The Impact: The asset intended for the deceased beneficiary could end up passing to their
heirs OR cause your estate to be treated as intestate [without a will] and pass to your
statutory heirs instead of those you choose.
The Solution: Include contingent beneficiaries and detailed instructions in your plan to
ensure assets are distributed according to your wishes, even if the original beneficiary is no
3. Selecting the Wrong Person to Manage Your Affairs
The Mistake: Choosing a friend or family member without considering their capability or
willingness to handle your estate.
The Impact: An unqualified or unwilling Personal Representative cause a more expensive &
The Solution: Choose someone trustworthy, organized, and financially savvy. Consider a
professional if there’s no suitable personal connection.
4. Unclear Division of Assets
The Mistake: Vague language about who gets what can create ambiguity.
The Impact: Uncertainty can lead to legal challenges, resentment among family members,
and assets not being distributed as you intended.
The Solution: Clearly specify the allocation of assets, using percentages or detailed
descriptions, and ensure the language is legally sound.
5. Neglecting an Advanced Care Directive
The Mistake: Overlooking the importance of an advanced care directive leaves critical
health care decisions up in the air.
The Impact: Without your explicit wishes documented, family members may be left to guess
about end-of-life care, potentially leading to disagreement and distress.
The Solution: Draft an advanced care directive outlining your wishes for medical care and
end-of-life decisions and choose a healthcare surrogate to ensure your preferences are
These mistakes in estate planning can undermine your intent. Tackling these issues head-on
with a clear and updated estate plan, backed by the guidance of a seasoned estate planning
attorney, can prevent these common pitfalls. Reach out to a trusted estate planning lawyer
today to review and refine your plan, safeguarding your future and that of your loved ones.
Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law, serves clients in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, and beyond with matters of Estate Planning and Probate. Contact her today to schedule a free consultation. Visit her page on Facebook, or see what her clients are saying to learn more about Heidi.