Although most Americans admit to knowing the importance of estate planning, over half do not have a plan in place. Part of the reason for this is that there are several myths and misconceptions about estate planning. To some extent, this is understandable because the average person has little reason to know much about estate planning until they sit down to create their plan. Unfortunately, however, some of those myths can result in costly mistakes. To help you avoid making any of those mistakes, the Beverly estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices offer help in debunking common estate planning myths.
Myth #1 “I don’t need to worry about estate planning until I have a valuable estate.”
This is something we hear all the time from people who have yet to create an estate plan. People believe that they must reach an imaginary asset threshold before they need to start estate planning. The truth is that the value of your assets is not important. What is important is that they are your assets, and you should decide what happens to them when you are gone. Without at least a basic estate plan in place, the State of Florida will decide what happens to the assets you do have. That promise you made to a favorite niece that she will get the family heirlooms you have will not be honored. The charity you donate to on a regular basis will also receive nothing if you die intestate (without a Will). What’s important is not the size or worth of your assets, but your right to decide what happens to them.
Myth #2 “I’m too young to worry about estate planning.”
This is often expressed along with Myth #1. Your age, however, is not important when it comes to estate planning. Every adult, without regard to age, needs an estate plan. Life changes rapidly when we are young. Before you know it, you are married and expecting your first child. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you have people to protect to create your estate plan. The plan should already be in place. Your Last Will and Testament, for example, is your only opportunity to let a judge know who you would want to be your child’s Guardian if one is ever needed. We don’t get a warning when tragedy is going to strike which is why it is so important to always have an estate plan in place.
Myth #3 – “I have a Will, so I’m done with estate planning.”
Your Last Will and Testament may be the foundation for your estate plan; however, a comprehensive estate plan typically includes additional strategies and documents to help achieve all your estate planning goals. Moreover, your plan needs to be reviewed and revised on a regular basis as well as when certain life events prompt an immediate revision.
Myth #4 “It’s best to appoint someone you trust, like a spouse, to fiduciary roles.”
A common myth – and a big mistake. Fiduciary roles in your estate plan, such as Executor or Trustee, play critical roles in your plan and comes with a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Appointing the right person will result in the success of your overall plan whereas the wrong person could cause your plan to fail. Consider what experience and knowledge the role requires before making your appointment.
Myth #5 “I don’t need a lawyer to help me with my estate plan.”
Using fill-in-the-blank “DIY” forms you find on the internet will frequently result in a more time-consuming and costly probate of your estate after you are gone. The reason for this is that DIY forms are often riddled with out-of-date information and errors. They are also known for creating ambiguities and failing to dispose of your entire estate. Any of these problems will result in litigation during the probate of your estate. Ultimately, this costs your loved ones much more time and money than you saved by not working with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Contact Beverly Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about estate planning, contact the Beverly estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.