Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid in Utah: Tips from Estates Planning Attorneys

Jeremy AtwoodEstate Planning

Senior couple with dog planning estate

Estate planning is a must-do, not a maybe. In Utah, skipping this step or messing it up can cause real headaches for your loved ones. 

Estate planning mistakes can upend your efforts to protect your family’s finances after your passing. So, whether you’re just starting to think about your estate plan or looking to refine an existing one, here are the common estate planning mistakes you need to dodge to keep things smooth and secure for your family.  

7 Common Estate Planning Mistakes You Can Avoid

1. Sticking to the Same Plan for Years

Major life events like getting married, going through a divorce, welcoming a new child, or losing a family member can bring significant shifts in your financial situation.  Consequently, your estate plan should reflect your new circumstances. 

If you don’t keep your will updated, you might as well not have one at all. Imagine leaving something to an ex-spouse because you forgot to update your will, or worse, not having provisions for a new child. It’s not just about adding or removing people; it’s about adjusting to ensure your assets are distributed exactly how you want, as per your current life situation. 

Regular check-ins with your elder law attorney in Utah can help your estate plan evolve with you. This way, you’ll know your wishes are clear and enforceable, no matter what life throws at your way. 

2. Procrastinating Your Estate Plan

Life is unpredictable. Waiting for a “better time” to plan your estate is a gamble with high stakes—your family’s future. 

By tackling your estate plan now, you’re not just crossing off another task; you’re giving yourself and your family the gift of peace of mind. You’re making sure that, no matter what happens, there’s a clear plan in place to protect your assets, honor your wishes, and reduce the burden on your loved ones during what will already be a tough time. 

Don’t let procrastination leave your family in a bind. Start your estate planning and probate journey today and rest easy knowing you’ve secured their tomorrow. 

3. Overlooking the Importance of a Living Will

Without a living will, you’re essentially leaving your life’s most personal and critical decisions up to chance, or worse, in a state of uncertainty that can lead to family conflicts and legal battles. 

A living will is your voice during times when you might not have one. This document clarifies your preferences for life-sustaining treatments, including resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and artificial nutrition and hydration, among others.

What’s more, a living will spare your loved ones from making agonizing decisions in your absence, removing the burden of guesswork about what you would have wanted. It keeps you in the driver’s seat, health-wise, no matter what happens. 

4. Ignoring Taxes 

In Utah, like everywhere else, there are state-specific tax implications that can significantly impact the value of the assets you leave behind. It’s all about the details, federal estate taxes, possible state taxes, and how different accounts get taxed after you’re gone. 

You need a game plan that keeps taxes in mind. This could mean giving gifts while you’re still around, setting up trusts in smart ways, or picking the right people to inherit things like retirement accounts to keep tax costs down. 

Ignoring taxes is not an option unless you’re okay with giving away more of your estate to taxes than necessary. Talking to someone who knows the ins and outs of Utah’s tax rules can make a big difference. 

5. Underestimating the Value of Trusts 

Trusts aren’t just for rich people. They’re for anyone who wants to keep their estate out of the long, costly process of probate, make sure their assets go exactly where they want, and even protect those assets from creditors or divorces. 

Trusts give you control. Whether you’re leaving money to a minor, setting aside funds for education, or ensuring a loved one with special needs is cared for, trusts handle it all, and they do it with precision. 

Furthermore, trusts keep your affairs private. Unlike a will that goes through probate and becomes a public record, a trust operates quietly in the background, keeping your family matters out of the public eye. They can also save your family time and money by skipping the probate court altogether. 

Bottom line: don’t write off trusts as something you don’t need. They’re a powerhouse tool in Utah estate planning, giving you the ability to direct your legacy exactly as you see fit. 

6. Not Letting Your Loved Ones Know About Your Estate Plan

The last thing you’d want to do is leave your loved ones in the dark about your estate plan. It’s important to let them in on the secret, so they know where everything is if you become incapacitated. 

It doesn’t matter how well your attorney drafts your estate plan- it’s useless if your beneficiaries have no way to access it. Give your family a copy of the estate plan, including any amendments or updates. Ensure they know where the originals are kept and how to access them. 

7. Skipping the Expert Help

Thinking you can handle estate planning on your own is a big mistake. Estate planning laws in Utah are tricky, and missing a beat can cost you.  

You need an attorney on your side, plain and simple. A seasoned lawyer will help you avoid common estate planning pitfalls that can jeopardize your family’s future. More importantly, they can make sure your estate plan is rock-solid and up-to-date with the latest laws.

The Bottom Line

A solid estate plan is your family’s best friend in a desperate time. Avoiding these common blunders and teaming up with a knowledgeable elder law attorney in Utah can put you in control of your legacy. 

Don’t let procrastination or mistakes derail your plans. Act now and give yourself and your loved ones the peace of mind you deserve. 

Need help forging a foolproof estate plan? The attorneys at Jeremy Atwood Law can come to your aid. Reach out to us for a free consultation today!