Estate planning can be a daunting process, and these common estate planning myths don’t help to lift the curtain on how important estate planning is and how everyone needs a plan. Many of these estate planning myths leave people thinking they don’t have the means or necessarily need an estate plan at all. We hope to dispel these myths and prove why everyone needs an estate plan.
Myth #1- Only Wealthy and Elderly People Need a Will
This is probably the most common of estate planning myths. While it’s true that wealthy and elderly people need a will, this vital estate planning document is something everyone should have. A will is a legal document that expresses someone’s wishes for their assets after their death and who is to manage the distribution of those assets. Even if you don’t consider yourself “wealthy”, you most likely have assets that need to be disbursed in the event of your death. Having a will creates a plan for your loved ones and helps them avoid the probate process, which can take a lot of time and also cut into any monetary assets you are leaving behind. A will can also help loved ones avoid any confusion or potential conflicts if they aren’t sure what you would want done with certain assets or property.
Aside from thinking that one needs a certain amount of wealth to need an estate plan, many think that only the elderly need a plan. Anyone over the age of 18 needs to have some sort of plan in case of an emergency. When you’re young you may not necessarily need a complicated plan as far as finances go as you may just be starting out or still dependent on your parents. But if you are over 18 you can and should have a plan for your healthcare wishes. If you get into an accident and become incapacitated, you will want a plan for your medical care wishes and for someone to advocate those decisions on your behalf. Having the proper documentation will also ease the process of your loved ones being able to get your medical information.
Myth #2- I Can Write a Will Myself
Sure having some kind of plan is better than none, but a handwritten will may not always hold up if it were to be contested after you pass. There are many horror stories of people dying without proper plans and what happens if a relative who is upset about your wishes tries to challenge the document you wrote yourself? Or other possible scenarios could include potentially disinheriting a loved one or missing crucial information. Having a proper estate plan that is done by a professional will spare your loved ones any conflicts and keep their potential inheritance intact.
Myth #3- An Estate Plan Only Covers My Money
This misconception can be a dangerous one. It’s never easy to think about potential accidents, but the truth is we never know what may happen and it’s better to have a plan of action in case something goes wrong. In your estate plan you should make known your choices on healthcare decisions. If you become incapacitated, who will be your advocate and how will they know what you would want? How do you want to manage pain? Do you want prolonged care? We previously wrote about a Living Will vs. Last Will & Testament that goes to show why it’s so important to have both documents in your estate plan.
Myth #4- Once I Have an Estate Plan I Don’t Have to Do Anything Else
So you’ve worked with a professional and crafted the perfect estate plan- great! But that doesn’t mean you’re done. Our lives change all the time and there are many life changes that warrant a change to your plan. This doesn’t need to be complicated, but it’s best to review your plan once a year and just do a mental checklist of any big changes in your life. Did you get married or divorced? Have children or grandchildren? Did you retire and move to a different state? Here are more times when you should update your estate plan.
If you believe any of these myths we hope we have convinced you to consider the alternatives. Having a proper estate plan is important for everyone and having peace of mind that your family is taken care of after you’re gone is priceless. If you need help getting started or have a plan you’d like to review, please contact us.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.