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Estate Planning Pitfalls: The Top 5 to Avoid

estate planning pitfalls

Estate Planning Pitfalls… What Are They? How Can You Avoid Them?

Estate planning pitfalls can be a person’s downfall when it comes to asset protection and elder law. Estate plans are no longer just for the wealthy. They’re becoming more mainstream especially considering the recent tragic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having an estate plan is typically great news for the beneficiaries. I say typically because all estate plans are not created equally. Furthermore, all those who take the time to create a plan aren’t aware that there are many pitfalls that can undo their best intentions.

Before creating an estate plan, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following list of most common, yet easily avoided estate planning mistakes.

One of the most important ideas to remember is that there is no “one estate plan fits all” template. Estate Plans are customized for uniquely individual circumstances.

Estate Planning Pitfall #1: Procrastination

Many people put off creating an estate plan until it’s too late. If an accident or sudden death happens, your loved ones are left to make decisions that you could have made for yourself.

Estate Planning Pitfall #2: Thinking it’s a DIY Project

The second most common mistake people make is to think you can create an air-tight, comprehensive estate plan on your own. This is not a do-it-yourself activity. You need the insight and experience of an estate planning attorney.

Estate Planning Pitfall #3: Keeping this information from your family.

Next on the mistakes to avoid list is not informing your loved ones about your estate plan. It’s important to let your family know that you have a plan and where it can be accessed when necessary.

Estate Planning Pitfall #4: Improper beneficiary designations.

This means if there are several family members with the same or similar name having Sr., Jr., or numerical II, or III designations, those names must be accurately stated.

Estate Planning Pitfall #5: Failure to review and update plan.

This is another very common mistake. Once you’ve created your estate plan, it’s important to review it at least once a year and update it with any necessary changes. If there are births, divorces, or deaths in the family, if a Power-of-Attorney dies or moves out of state. If someone you’ve appointed as trustee has fallen out of favor. Any significant life change should trigger a review of your estate plan.

These are just a few of the most common estate planning mistakes that often disrupt the best laid plans of those who create estate plans.

If you are ready to establish an estate plan, give my office a call at 404-370-0696. We will go over all the common and less common mistakes to avoid and make sure you have a well thought out, comprehensive plan. We also prompt our clients annually to see if they need to review or make changes to the estate plans we’ve drawn up for them.


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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