Comprehensive estate planning is challenging, and the process is unique for every couple and individual. Most people put a lot of time and energy into crafting an appropriate estate plan, including working with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that the estate planning mechanisms they want to put in place comply with applicable law and will accomplish the person’s goals for his or her assets. We have recently written about some warning signs that your estate plan may be at risk of being challenged, but there are steps you can take to minimize that risk.
Work with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Preparation is key in estate planning. Not only can being prepared help you ensure that the assets you have worked hard for are secure, but it can also help you avoid unwarranted challenges to your estate plan. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you make sure there are no legal loopholes in your estate plan and that it complies with both federal and state law. This in itself can help avoid may challenges to an estate plan. The earlier you start to engage in comprehensive estate planning, the less likely your estate plan will be challenged on technical and legal grounds because you can avoid many claims of undue influence or issues related to your state of mind when creating your estate plan.
Name an Executor
It is important to select an executor that understands the goals you have set in creating your estate plan. In fact, you should think about choosing two just in case the first individual you choose is unable to fulfill the duties of an executor. When an executor is in charge of your estate that understands your wishes, your assets are likely to be distributed in a more efficient manner. Make sure that you choose an executor that is not only able to perform the essential duties of administering your estate, but also has the desire to advocate for your wishes should the need to do so arise.
Address All Property
It is important to create a comprehensive estate plan that includes directions for distribution of all of your assets, even those that might otherwise seem insignificant. For example, one child may have always had an eye for a particular ring that has been in the family for generations. It may seem that other children are not interested in the ring, but funny things can happen when you are not specific about who gets what asset. Additionally, explaining your reasoning to beneficiaries can often help them reach a better understanding as to why you have designed your estate plan the way you have.
Ensure All Important Forms Are Periodically Reviewed
Life can bring significant changes. It is important to make sure you address those changes when they arise, especially when it comes to your estate plan. Major life events in your life can have a significant impact on your estate planning, and so can significant events in the lives of your beneficiaries. Working with your estate planning attorney to review your estate plan and make modifications when necessary is an important step in making sure your estate plan is consistent with the circumstances in your life as well as your changing goals. You also need to be sure to update beneficiary nominations and other important forms that could become outdated or may no longer fit with your needs.