• Failing to plan for large expenses, such as long-term care. About 70 percent of us can expect to be completely incapacitated for some period of time before we die, so failing to have a “disability plan” in place can severely limit our options.
• Failing to update your estate plan, including beneficiary designations on bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and insurance policies. Review your estate plan at least annually, and update it as necessary.
• Failing to take steps to avoid family strife. Making your intentions clear is the first step. Building incentives (and disincentives) into your estate plan can nix courtroom battles.
• Putting your kids on the title to your stuff during your lifetime. You may be setting your loved ones up for capital gains taxes that could have been avoided and you may also be putting your assets at risk. Your kids’ creditors (or ex-spouses) could get their hooks into your assets while you still need them.
Do your estate planning right and work with professionals. Shop around to find advisors who know what they are doing, will help you devise a workable plan and are worth their fees.