Estate planning is a crucial step in managing your assets and ensuring your wishes are respected, both in life and after. However, the process can be complex, and without proper guidance, it’s easy to make mistakes that can have long-lasting effects on you and your loved ones. Here’s a rundown of the top 12 estate planning mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Procrastination

One of the biggest mistakes is simply not starting. The best time to plan your estate was yesterday; the next best time is now. Delaying your estate planning can lead to unnecessary complications and stress for your family.

2. DIY Estate Plans

While it might be tempting to cut costs by crafting your own estate plan, this can often lead to problems. Professional estate planners are knowledgeable about the nuances of state laws and can ensure your documents are legally valid.

3. Improper Trust Funding

Creating a trust is only part of the process; you must also correctly transfer assets into the trust. Failing to properly fund a trust can render it useless, so it’s crucial to complete this step accurately.

4. Underestimating Inheritance Protection

Both minor and adult children may face risks that could impact their inheritance, such as divorce or poor financial management. Structured inheritance plans can provide necessary protections.

5. Limited Beneficiaries

Always name primary and contingent beneficiaries. This ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, even if the primary beneficiary is unable to inherit.

6. Insecure Document Storage

Storing important documents in inaccessible or insecure locations, like safety deposit boxes, can create hurdles during critical times. Choose a secure, accessible location for storing your estate planning documents.

7. Incomplete Plans

An effective estate plan covers both financial and healthcare decisions. Ensure your plan includes all necessary documents like wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney.

8. Keeping Family in the Dark

Transparency with family members about your estate plan can prevent future conflicts and confusion. It’s important they understand your wishes and know where to find essential documents.

9. Not Updating Your Plan

Life changes such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, and moving to a new state necessitate updates to your estate plan. Regular reviews will ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

10. Adding Children to Property Titles

This common strategy can lead to unintended tax consequences and liability issues. It’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney to explore safer alternatives.

11. No Incapacity Plan

An often-overlooked aspect of estate planning is preparing for potential incapacity. Powers of attorney for both healthcare and finances are essential.

12. Ignoring Estate Taxes

Understanding and planning for potential estate taxes can save your heirs significant amounts of money. An estate planning professional can provide strategies to minimize these taxes.


Avoiding these common mistakes can help ensure that your estate plan is robust and fully functional. Consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney can provide peace of mind and security for your future and that of your loved ones.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at 727-223-6080.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Please consult with a qualified attorney for personalized guidance on your specific situation.

By: Danielle Vaughn, Board Certified Real Estate Attorney