Avoid these estate planning pitfalls

As you start thinking about the future, you may start to plan the distribution of your property to your beneficiaries when you pass away. However, many people make the mistake of ignoring seemingly small or insignificant pieces of personal property. If you want your family to divide up your assets peacefully, you need to avoid these mistakes as you draft your will and other estate planning documents.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to consider the sentimental value of your personal property. Old photographs, trinkets and other personal property with little monetary value may be very valuable on a sentimental level. Talk to your family as you draft your will to determine what sentimental items they would like to have and then make your decision about who gets what. Make sure to put any bequests in writing. You may have unintentionally promised certain items to multiple family members, which will cause conflict in the future. The best way to avoid this is to put your final decision in writing.

You also need to consider who will receive your social media account passwords, reward program balances and other unusual forms of property. Certain property, such as guns, may require more than just a simple bequest in a will. Talk to your attorney to make sure that all legal requirements are met for the transfer of property.

You also need to make sure you don’t rely on anyone else to make decisions regarding property distribution. There is no guarantee that the person you trust will distribute your property the way you want them too. Make sure you don’t forget to specify who gets what from the safe deposit box. If you do not clearly state who gets the contents of the box in your will, your precious family heirlooms may end up in the wrong hands. The executor of your will also needs to change the locks on your home so that your loved ones don’t help themselves to your personal items.

Source: CNBC, “7 ways that cheap Tweety Bird figurine can screw up your estate,” Kelli B. Grant, Oct. 10, 2017