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The consequences of poor estate planning

How many times have you heard the story of someone who seemed to do everything right but made one big mistake that left his or her loved ones struggling for years after the person died? Sadly, this is not an unusual tale, and often, that “one big mistake” involves estate planning.

Depending on the situation, estate planning can be complicated and complex. However, even a simple estate that is poorly prepared when someone dies can result in confusion, hassle and even legal battles for those left behind. Knowing the importance of carefully preparing your estate and seeking skilled assistance along the way could help you avoid the mistakes that you may never know about but that your family might have to deal with when you are gone.

Putting it off

Of course, the most serious and common estate planning mistake is not taking the time to make a plan in the first place. Many have excuses for not creating an estate plan, such as thinking they are not old enough or that they don’t have enough assets to justify taking this step. What you may not realize is that there are elements of an estate plan that are critical for anyone, no matter their age or the size of their estate.

Financial powers of attorney, health care directives and medical powers of attorney provide protection for those who are suddenly unable to make such decisions for themselves. This is not limited to those whose capacities are deteriorating with age. Anyone at any time may suffer an accident or illness that leaves them unable to handle their own finances or make decisions for their medical treatment or end-of-life care.

Common oversights

Even those who create their estate plans can make serious mistakes that their loved ones must ultimately deal with, for example:

  • Failing to consider the benefits of a trust along with a will
  • Not knowing the specific laws for estate planning in Kansas
  • Using an online or do-it-yourself template that does not fit your unique estate planning needs
  • Forgetting to review and revise your plan following major life events

For example, if you should marry, divorce or remarry, you will want to be certain your documents accurately reflect your choices for beneficiaries. Fortunately, you do not have to do your estate planning alone. In fact, it is always wise to have legal counsel when dealing with these important and potentially life-changing matters.