5 Mistakes With Your Will That Make You Look As Dumb As Saul Goodman
Tonight is the Season Three premiere of AMC’s Better Call Saul, the highly acclaimed “dramedy” which features slippery lawyer Jimmy McGill. Since Better Call Saul is a prequel series to Breaking Bad, we know Jimmy eventually transforms himself into the very ethically challenged Saul Goodman. In either show, Jimmy/Saul is not someone you want to emulate.
Such a character creates conflict and mistakes in his life from his warring moral compass against his ambition. And, just like any important project worth doing, you can make mistakes with your estate plan. Here are five of the worst mistakes you might make with your estate plan. Avoid them to not be dumb…like Saul.
Thinking you only need a Will.
As I’ve stated before, but bears repeating, you need more than a will. You need an estate plan. An estate plan consists of several legal documents to prepare for your death or disability. A will is just one of these several documents, although an important one.
I’ve written at length about the six “must have” estate planning documents. Don’t get just a will, it’s not enough. Get an estate plan.
DIY Estate Plan.
Why would you not hire an Iowa lawyer—particularly one well versed in wills, trusts and estates—and go it alone? Yet, folks write their own “estate plans” all the time. There are at least nine excellent reasons to hire an attorney to draft your estate plan.
The question is not, whether you can you write your own “estate plan.” Given the Internet and YouTube, with some training and practice you could no doubt perform oral surgery on yourself. The question is whether that decision is a wise one and will it turn out well?
The plain truth is you need a lawyer to help you with your estate plan.
Failing to keep your estate plan up-to-date.
The only constant in life is change. And as your life changes, your estate plan must adapt. Common events that should cause you to re visit your estate plan include:
- The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
- Marriage or divorce
- Illness or disability of your spouse
- Purchasing a home or other large asset
- Moving to another state
- Large increases or decreases in the value of assets, such as investments
- If you or your spouse receives a large inheritance or gift
- If any family member, or other heir dies, becomes ill, or becomes disabled
There are many other life events that ought to cause you to update your estate plan. Be sure to keep your estate plan current.
Not getting an estate plan at all.
Surveys show that about 50% of Americans don’t have even a basic will. Oy. When you consider the bad, even terrible consequences of not having an estate plan, if you don’t have one, get on it stat. A great start would be to download my Estate Planning Questionnaire. My Estate Planning Questionnaire is free and easy, and truly a terrific first step.
Failure to think about including your favorite charity in your will.
Your estate plan is a great way to fund the causes you care about most. Whether it be a church, hospital, school, social welfare agency, whatever nonprofit you feel strongly toward, why not make a gift to them in your estate plan? You may well make a real difference, perhaps even one large enough to transform your fave charity and affect generations to come.
If you have kids, of course you want to make sure they are well provided for. I certainly understand that. But perhaps your kids are now grown adults, successful in their own careers. Perhaps you are affluent, in which case, maybe you need to ask yourself, “How much is enough for the kids?“ In any case, almost all us in some way, is deeply tied to, and grateful for, a charity. Consider generously giving to that charity at your final farewell.
Unlike either or Jimmy McGill or Saul Goodman, I am honest, ethical, and never playing an angle. Find out for yourself, as I offer a free one-hour consultation. Come visit. I can always be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 515-371-6077.