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The three most common estate planning mistakes

Putting together an estate plan is an obstacle for many families. First, you may not know where to begin. Second, you may not know where to go once you start; and, third, you're afraid of making mistakes that could affect lifelong assets and valuable property. All of these concerns are valid, and estate planning attorneys are available to address them with you and your family.

If you're seeking more information on estate planning, chances are that you're trying to alleviate some of these concerns. Putting plans into action requires complex and evolving paperwork, and you need to make sure that it works together when you need it the most.

Addressing estate planning concerns

Forbes recently outlined three common mistakes that people make when writing an estate plan. Understanding what to watch for can make you less fearful of the process as a whole and help you get started on the right track toward a lifelong estate plan.

Here are the three big mistakes to avoid:

1. Not thinking of yourself first

You probably have a rough idea of your wishes for your estate plan. If so, you're already on the right track, and it's time to take steps to make those wishes a reality under the law. If you don't make your wishes known, your estate could be divided by a predetermined set of state and federal laws that may not be ideal for you or your family.

We all make sacrifices for our loved ones that often put our wishes on the back burner, but estate planning is not the time to put your desires aside. By putting your estate planning wishes in writing, you can make the process smoother for your family in a time of need.

2. Not having a revocable living trust and durable power of attorney

Having a revocable living trust and durable power of attorney work in tandem can be powerful in managing your estate. Together, these documents can help a reliable person manage both the day-to-day and long-term needs of your estate. Without the right legal tool at the right time, hospitals or financial institutions may be unable to recognize your needs or a loved one's ability to carry them out.

3. Having an outdated power of attorney

Life changes, and with that, so could the person who has the trust and ability to manage your estate. If a power of attorney appears outdated, a bank or other entity may be hesitant to recognize it, according to Forbes, which could eliminate the powers you wished to ensure by having a living trust and power of attorney. Therefore, reviewing your powers of attorney should be part of your regular maintenance of a larger estate plan.

Our biggest fears in life often rest in the unknown, but by understanding what to avoid in the process, we can make estate planning a little more known.

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