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Wills and estates: How not to mess up an estate plan

Once people have made the decision to devote some time to their estate plans, knowing what’s essential is helpful, and knowing what screws up estate planning might also make the going a bit easier. Wills and estates can be tricky things for British Columbia residents, and even tiny mistakes could mess up otherwise good planning. Not keeping documents current is probably the number one faux pas for an existing plan, but there are others.

It may seem obvious, but the number one mistake is not having a plan at all. The issues surrounding those who die intestate (or without a will) could cost loved ones a great deal financially as well as emotionally, so having a plan is essential. Not having a comprehensive plan — one that includes all necessary documents — might also prevent things from proceeding smoothly once those documents are needed. A good estate plan consists of more than just a will, but should include documents like health care directives and trusts, depending upon circumstances.

As documents are updated, so too should beneficiaries be updated. Life events like marriage, death, divorce and births might affect who gets which assets. Having a poor inventory of assets might also make life more difficult for an executor as well as family members. A testator should always have a current list of assets and where they can be located and that includes any digital assets like social media pages. Not talking to loved ones about an estate plan can also prove to be a big error.

British Columbia residents who don’t know where to begin when it comes to their wills and estates might find the best and most immediate answers from an experienced lawyer. A lawyer may be able to guide a client regarding which documents he or she should have as part of a well-rounded estate plan. It is best to have these documents in order sooner rather than later since life sometimes has a way of throwing curve balls.