Probate is the process of proving a will’s validity, while also dispersing assets to heirs. If you die without a will your estate will end up in probate court, but this can also occur if your plan contains certain errors. Forbes explains how to prevent common estate planning mistakes so you can avoid probate.
Make sure trusts are funded
Trusts are a great estate planning tool and can even help you sidestep probate when used correctly. However, you must fund your trust by changing titles and deeds on assets to show trust ownership. Failure to do so means these items will be decided on by the court, which can lead to your final wishes being ignored. When it comes to trusts, each asset has different requirements to ensure it is included. If you lack an understanding of how trusts work, consider speaking with an estate planning attorney.
Update your will when necessary
Creating a will is only the first part of the process. You also want to update your will as needed to ensure it reflects your most current wishes. Most people update their wills after a new marriage, a divorce, or the birth or adoption of a child. If no major life events have occurred, you can also review your will every two years or so to ensure it is still relevant. You also want to look at your powers of attorney, which are people responsible for making medical and financial decisions in the event you are incapacitated.
Know your beneficiary designations
Beneficiary designations offer instructions on dispersing proceeds from life insurance policies and retirement accounts. You decide who gets what and fill in this information on the policies and account themselves, along with including them in your will. If you fail to update designations but include different information in your will, the former will override the latter. When reviewing other estate documents, take a moment to review financial accounts as well. Doing so will spare your family quite a few headaches after you are gone.