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How can I create a solid estate plan?

If you are currently creating an estate plan in New York, you want to ensure the document is valid. Mistakes in your plan can lead to the wrong people receiving your assets, which can be devastating for your family. The Street explains a few of the more common estate planning mistakes and how you can avoid them.

If you have a retirement account or life insurance policy, you can leave the proceeds to your loved ones. This is possible through beneficiary designations, which must be filled out appropriately to ensure your final wishes are upheld. Even if you have instructions in your will regarding these assets, they will be superseded by your beneficiary designations. When there are discrepancies your estate will be subject to probate, which is a costly and protracted legal process.

You also want to ensure that beneficiary designations, along with the rest of your estate plan, are updated when necessary. This is usually the case after a divorce, new marriage, or the birth or adoption of a child. Even if no major life event has occurred, it is recommended that you look over your estate plan every two or three years just to be certain. It is possible that you do not feel the same when you first created the document, and if so, you must take the steps to make changes.

Lastly, make sure information on your estate plan and assets are readily accessible. Keep deeds, titles, and access information for online accounts well organized and in one place. Also, make sure copies of your estate plan are kept at your home, filed with your attorney, and even kept on hand on a close friend or family member’s house. This will make the process much easier for your family, who will be tasked with accessing documents after you are gone.