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The Number One Estate Planning Mistake Is Also the Most Common

Daryll Pomey Orat - Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A new study indicates that one of the biggest estate planning mistakes is also a far too frequent one. According to the research that focused on wealthy persons who had a net worth of more than $500 million, most of these persons’ estate plans were at least five years old at the time of the study.

For any person, estate planning gives a sense of completion, and many people chalk this down as one more task that they must finish. There is a feeling of accomplishment, and not surprisingly, many people believe that now that they have drafted and attested an estate plan, they can simply file it away, and relax. That is the number one mistake that people make. Your estate plan is not just a document that can be put in storage for years until your passing, when your heirs go back to the papers to see how you have divided your assets. If this is what estate planning means to you, then your heirs are likely to be in for a big shock.

There are a number of changes that can occur over a person's lifestyle and circumstances over a period of years, after he has made his estate plan. It's not just the wealthy who need to go back to their estate plans periodically to review and update these plans. Everyone must review their plans periodically, and update them as needed.

Divorce, for instance, is one of the biggest reasons why your estate plan needs to be changed. Approximately 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and once the marriage ends, there are changes that must be made to the division of assets set out in your plan. Removing your ex-spouse’s name from your your estate plan seems obvious, but it’s shocking how many people don’t bother to do so. Apart from divorce, the birth of a child, the launch of a new business, a marriage in the family involving your children or grandchildren and other life events necessitate that you go back to your estate plan, review it and make changes as appropriate.

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