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3 common estate planning mistakes

You know that quote that starts with, "The best-laid plans of mice and men..."? This quote can be used to describe a lot of Illinois residents' estate plans. Many estate plans are well-intentioned but, at the end of the day, they lay in waste and ruin and never serve to carry out the original goals of the person who created the plan.

This is often because estate planners who don't hire lawyers, or who leave their estate plans unattended and unreviewed for long periods of time, are not informed enough to avoid common mistakes. Here are few of these mistakes that have in many cases rendered an estate plan completely unworkable:

Forgetting to revise an estate plan: Life circumstances change. People die, people get born and people get married and divorced. Estate plans need to be updated to reflect the new family situation after one of these major events.

Ignoring your beneficiary designations: Beneficiary designations on IRAs, 401(k)s, and other financial accounts will supersede whatever your will says. As such, if the 401(k) says it will be inherited by your ex-wife, your ex-wife may still be able to collect the inheritance, even if your will dictates otherwise.

Not realizing how bad at financial planning your heirs are: Consider whether your heir can actually handle the receipt of a large amount of money. You might, for example, want to put your heir's inheritance in a trust that gets distributed to him or her in small payments over time.

If you want to plan your estate the right way and prevent error that could ruin your ideas for your wealth, be sure to discuss your estate plan and its current status with an estate planning lawyer on a regular basis.

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