4 Easy-to-Overlook Estate Planning Mistakes Epstein and White

It’s easy to avoid making an estate plan, but not having one won’t be easy on your loved ones. Having your affairs in order can be a big help to your family, so consider creating a comprehensive estate plan. Unfortunately, there are many easy-to-overlook estate planning mistakes, such as not naming beneficiaries on retirement accounts, not doing so properly, or forgetting to update your estate plan.

Not Naming Beneficiaries

Many people don’t realize that they need to name a beneficiary for retirement accounts and life insurance policies. They may never get around to filling out the forms, or they may assume that these will automatically go to their spouse or children. If you do not name a beneficiary for life insurance or retirement accounts, then the financial company has its own rules about where the assets will go after your passing. Even if you named a beneficiary in your will or trust, you need to name the same beneficiary on your retirement account because beneficiary designations can trump will and trust directives. 

Getting Their Names Wrong

This may seem crazy, but it’s more common than you might think. It can be easy to forget to put “Jr.” or “III” after someone’s name. Make sure the name you put down matches that person’s birth certificate exactly or matches their current legal name if that has changed due to marriage, divorce, or any other reason. Not having the names match could result in delays in getting that person their inheritance or even a legal dispute between two people in the family with similar names.[1]

Not Updating Your Estate Plan

There are many reasons why you might need to update your estate plan, including changes in estate law, the tax code, and personal changes. For example, if you’ve designated your daughter as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and she gets married and changes her name, you may need to update your designation. Similarly, divorces, legal name changes, deaths, and births in the family can mean that you need to revisit your estate plan and update names in any important legal documents.

Not Seeking Professional Advice

Some people think that having an estate plan is only for billionaires, but this isn’t the case. If you have assets that you want to pass onto your loved ones, you may need to create a will or a trust, as well as name beneficiaries for certain assets. There are many tax considerations when creating an estate plan, and a professional can help you in that area. These rules are always subject to change, so remember to revisit your estate plan every few years with a professional to see if it needs to change in light of new laws. We can help you create an estate plan that is integrated with your overall retirement plan. Click here to sign up to get started on constructing a retirement plan that works for you.


Please Note: Epstein & White is a tradename. All services provided by Epstein & White investment professionals are provided in their individual capacities as investment adviser representatives of Mercer Global Advisors Inc. (“Mercer Advisors”), an SEC registered investment adviser principally located in Denver, Colorado, with various branch offices throughout the United States doing business under different tradenames, including Epstein & White. Information contained herein is for informational and illustrative purposes only and general in nature.  It should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any type of securities or insurance products and no investment decision should be made based solely on any information provided herein. We provide this information with the understanding that we are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or tax services. We recommend that all investors seek out the services of competent professionals in any of the aforementioned areas.

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[1] https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/t021-c032-s014-beneficiary-designations-5-big-mistakes-to-avoid.html