In my work as an 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.
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 on 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.
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.