A will is not the only important estate planning document

Most people in West Virginia have a variety of different tasks and chores that they must complete on a daily basis. As such, certain things — such as estate planning — can easily be put off for another day. Unfortunately, no plan, or a plan that contains only a will, can ultimately create costly and time-consuming mistakes.

Because they are in the picture of health, some people might put off going through the process, thinking it is unnecessary. However, a stroke or car accident can come quickly and unexpectedly, leaving the person unable to make his or her own financial and medical decisions. On the other hand, a person may not be able to recognize his or her own gradual decline; once identified, the individual may no longer be able to make decisions. Medical decisions could be left to doctors who may be unfamiliar with the person’s wishes. Likewise, the court may name someone the person would not have chosen to make financial decisions on his or her behalf.

Creating a power of attorney and other such documents can help prevent this confusion. Additionally, certain assets, such as retirement accounts, have a designated beneficiary listed. This person will most likely inherit the asset regardless of what a will says, making periodically reviewing beneficiary designations an important part of the estate planning process. Trusts are also an important tool that can help expedite the division of assets and keep information about the estate private in a way that a will alone is unable to do.

While some people may be tempted to save a few dollars by creating estate planning documents themselves, mistakes can often be costly and time-consuming to correct — if they can even be corrected. Often families are left trying to unravel a mistake in a time that should be focused on recovering from their loss. Fortunately, professionals in West Virginia can help ensure that a plan accurately expresses a person’s wishes and make it less susceptible to a successful challenge.

Source: Forbes, “7 Big Estate Planning Mistakes – Part 1“, Bob Carlson, Feb. 21, 2018