As a New York Estate Planning attorney practicing in Trust and Estate field for 19 years, I see the following common estate planning mistakes. Many people draft a will with the best intentions in mind, but they often let their emotions overtake their rationality. Emotions often get in the way of effective estate planning. Feelings can influence and interrupt the decision-making process and distract you from the more important things.
Here are four common issues that could derail your estate planning process:
1. Too Much Control
When writing a Will, you have to keep in mind that not everything is going to go accordingly. No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to have control over everything. It is best to acknowledge the fact that you will plan things prior to your death, but after you die, things will have to change. You have to take into account anything that is subject to a change in the future. One example could be leaving an asset to a child, who can predecease you. You never know how the future will turn out to be and the sooner you come to terms with it, the better.
2. Trying to Keep the Peace
If you had a messy divorce, there could be a conflict with how to distribute your assets fairly to avoid any conflict between the two families. Your current spouse may not be the biological parent of any of your children, but still be entitled to the significant part of your estate. You would have to address the interests of the surviving spouse, but at the same time protect the interests of your biological children. Proper planning with the help of an experienced New York trust and estate attorney can help you to avoid all Will challenges later.
3. Sympathizing With Struggling Children
A common issue that comes up in estate planning can stem from emotions with struggling children. You may prioritize that child so much that it would negatively affect other children or other surviving family members. A struggling child could have alcohol or drug abuse, or a child that is difficult and does not get along with the guardian (i.e. a step parent). In these situations, you have to be as objective as possible and look out for the best interests of everyone, not just your struggling child.
4. Feelings of Guilt
When writing your Will, feelings of guilt may come up of people that you’ve wronged throughout your life. You may feel that you treated a sibling or a previous spouse unfairly and would now want to compensate for that in the will. You shouldn’t feel like you owe anything to anyone. The best way to deal with this is to keep your emotions out as much as possible and prioritize as much as you can. You have to be practical of just how much you can balance.
Estate planning is all about balancing your wishes and to do so successfully, you have to put your emotions aside. Feelings can only get in the way, and they cannot be present when you have to be objective.
At the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn, we can help you prepare the best estate plan and advise you on writing your Will correctly. For more information call us at (718) 333-2394.