In my work as a Houston estate planning attorney, I meet with a lot of people who have different legal needs. What I’ve discovered, however, is that most non-attorneys (and some attorneys who don’t focus on estate planning) have something in common—they don’t understand what estate planning is or what it can do for them.
Part of my mission is to change that.
You see, most people who are not estate planning professionals believe in one or more myths about this area of law, myths that have been circulating practically since estate plans became a thing. However, a comprehensive estate plan can be very helpful especially when it comes to avoiding probate problems in the future.
To do my part in dispelling some of these misconceptions about my area of expertise, I now present you with four myths about estate planning that you should stop believing right now.
I Have to Be Filthy Rich to Have an Estate Plan
One of the most pernicious myths about estate law is that planning is only for the super-wealthy. This assumption couldn’t be further from reality. Anyone who owns assets or property—no matter how much they are worth—can benefit from estate planning. If you want your property to pass on to the right people, you should have a plan.
Besides, estate law covers much more than finances and asset distribution. It is also essential for planning for the worst. For instance, if you are incapacitated, do you know who will be making those life-and-death decisions for you?
A Will Is Enough to Protect My Interests
Having a will is a great first step in estate planning. For some people, having a will is enough to take care of their needs. Their last will and testament will pass through probate and distribute their assets to their beneficiaries. However, some assets—such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts—do not fall under a will’s purview. Instead, these assets go directly to their designated beneficiaries.
In addition to a will, you should talk to your estate planning attorney about whether creating a trust is in your best interest.
I Can Create My Own Estate Plan
While DIY might be appropriate for saving money on home renovations, you should never try to create your own estate plan. Without years of education and knowledge of federal and state laws, you are not going to be able to navigate the ins and outs of the process. Sure, maybe you will create a plan that fits your needs, but are you willing to stake your money in it? Are you willing to bet your peace of mind on chance?
I Never Need to Update My Estate Plan
Life isn’t static, and your estate plan shouldn’t be, either. Things change. Wealth grows. People get married or divorced. Loved ones die. Tax laws change. Nothing about life is set in stone, so you need to make sure that you review your plan at least once a year.
The Importance of Having a Comprehensive Estate Plan
Estate planning involves establishing a strategy on how to divide your property upon your death. Planning your estate often involves deciding who will manage your financial and medical affairs in the event that you are unable to make important decisions.
An estate plan is a document that outlines how you want your possessions to be handled after you pass away. If you don’t specify that your property will go to your spouse after your death, Texas probate laws will apply. Without the assistance of an estate planning attorney, such a proceeding could be extremely tedious. To save money and time, avoiding probate is something you and your lawyer should strive to achieve.
An estate plan can also be used as a safety net. It can help preserve the value of your assets, reduces disbursement waiting periods, and ensures that the legacy you want is fulfilled. You can choose who gets your possessions. By writing a will, you can identify your assets and beneficiaries. You can also choose who will make your decisions by creating an estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan often includes a durable power-of-attorney form and a Healthcare proxy form. These are two crucial legal forms that will ensure your plan is executed as you intended.
If you are unable to speak for yourself, a durable power of attorney allows someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. Healthcare proxy forms allow someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, based on your wishes.
There are many different estate planning tools that you can explore with an experienced estate planning lawyer. A skilled lawyer can help you understand these tools and help you choose what is best for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Who Understands Your Needs
I take the time to get to know my clients so that I can better understand what they need to protect themselves and their families. Talk to me today if you want to discuss your estate plan.