Common Mistakes People Make When Estate Planning

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

At Unique Estate Law, we know that estate planning can seem complicated. If you try to do it on your own, without the benefit of an estate planning attorney, it usually is! However, even if you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney, there are some mistakes we, unfortunately, see people make when they begin or reengage in the estate planning process.


One of the most common issues we see with estate planning clients is that estates do not leave enough revenue to pay estate taxes after the estate holder passes. This often means that the beneficiaries of the estate plan are forced to sell property like homes, boats, cars and other items simply to pay off their estate tax debt. An experienced estate planning attorney will help you carefully plan your estate so as to ensure that you avoid entangling your beneficiaries in these kinds of issues. Given the recent changes to the tax code, it is also worth visiting with your estate planning attorney on a regular basis to determine whether these and any future tax law changes necessitate an update of your estate plan.

Family Issues

Unfortunately, families do not always get along. Whether it’s sibling rivalry or a strained relationship between your spouse and one of your children, many families experience these kinds of issues. While they arise both before and after the death of parents, oftentimes these acrimonious relationships are exacerbated by disputes about inheritance.

Most often, these disputes are caused by the unequal distribution of assets between siblings, so experienced estate planning attorneys should always advise their clients to talk with their future beneficiaries about which assets they are or are not receiving, and why or why not. At Unique Estate Law, we understand that these kinds of conversations can be difficult, and we advise clients who find it hard to have these one on one conversations with their beneficiaries to write a letter to be delivered to each beneficiary upon their passing.

Outdated Estate Plans

Many clients tend to think that estate planning is a “one and done” process, however when you fail to account for life changes in your estate plan that is a recipe for disaster. Divorce, a soured relationship with a family member, or changed financial circumstances all necessitate revisiting your estate plan. The same goes for happier life circumstances, like rekindling a bad relationship with a child, an increase in your assets or wealth, or a new marriage. If you do not update your estate plan to legally reflect these changes, your assets may not go to those you intend—and may go to those you do not want to receive them.

At our firm, we know that estate planning is often confusing. No matter what your questions are, we are ready to help guide you through every step of the estate planning process. At the end of the day, it is important that, after you pass, your assets be distributed in the way you want to the people you want. Chris Tymchuck has extensive experience helping clients create new estate plans and update existing ones to reflect changed life circumstances, and is ready to answer all of your questions. Contact us today to learn more.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.