If you are in a position where you feel that you really need to sit down and start doing some estate planning, there is no time like the present. When you get to the point where you think it's time, you need to understand that estate planning is more than just creating a will. A will is just one part of estate planning. The planning consists of a lot of different things like mutual funds, wills, assets, protecting those you love and much more. Here are a few things to look out for and to avoid when you decide to do your estate planning.
The most important issue and mistake that a lot of people make is the fact that they sometimes wait too long. It's also a common mistake for a lot of people to think they simply don't need any kind of estate planning. However, this is not the case. One day everyone is going to be faced with the end of life issues that relate directly to our health and the things we own or have saved. If you wait to long all it does is put far too much stress on your family who is having to try and deal with such issues for you if you're not able to.
Another common mistake that people make is that they think estate planning is only for people who have a lot of money. This also is not true. Estate planning is for anyone who has any kind of assets. True estate plans are not merely about your wealth they are also about planning for issues that come up at the end of your life. For instance this could include what to do about hospice care or long term care should the this come up.
If you have a will make sure that it's updated. If you don't have one, make one up. You need to update your will if there have been any changes in the family like divorce, children being born and other things that might impact the outcome of the will. Failure to do so may cause problems in the end.
A lot of people even if they have an estate plan tend to not give it to anyone so that it can be kept safe until the time comes when it's needed. So, if you have a lawyer make sure that you give him a copy and if you don't then make sure that you put it in a safety deposit box and make sure that someone in your family knows where it's at and that they have access to it.
If you have young children, even if you are not thinking this far ahead and so many people don't, you need to make sure that you have something that is in writing and considered a legal document that will cover the care of your children. The last thing you need to do is to have your children ending up in foster care because you failed to stipulate who would take care of your children should something happen to you.
If you can afford it, the best thing you can do is have an estate planning attorney on retainer and have him draw up the plan and keep it updated for you.