Estate Planning, Probate & Elder Law Tips, Tricks, News, Upcoming Events & More

5 Estate Planning Myths, Debunked

Estate planning can be confusing, and the number of myths and misconceptions about the subject certainly don’t help. Not only do these myths blur the line between estate planning fact and fiction, but it’s hard to know what information is credible these days…and what information isn’t.

Here are some common misconceptions about estate planning, debunked by facts:

1. MYTH: Estate planning is just about Wills and Trusts

Wills and Trusts are absolutely important parts of estate planning, but there are more pieces to the puzzle. An estate planning lawyer can help you with more than just managing your assets. From drafting documents that grant other people the power to make medical and financial decisions in the event of your incapacitation, to overseeing the distribution of your assets after you pass, estate planning is so much more than just Wills and Trusts.

2. MYTH: Estate planning is only about what happens after you die

What happens with your assets after you’re gone is only one part of a complete Estate Plan. There is plenty of planning that is important to have in place while you’re still very much alive. You can appoint people to act on your behalf in medical, financial, and other legal situations by drafting such documents as Advanced Healthcare Directives and Powers of Attorney, which ensure your wishes will be carried out if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.

3. MYTH: Estate plans don’t need to be changed once they’re drafted

Even if you get an early start on your Estate Plan, it’s a good idea to review your plan regularly. As with so many things in life, your plans and wishes may change over time, as does the law. You may get married, have children, become a grandparent, get divorced, or accrue property or other assets…or your heirs may get married to someone you don’t necessarily trust, or they could develop a drug or alcohol dependency. The point is, life changes…and so, too, should your Estate Plan.

4. MYTH: You don’t need an Estate Plan unless you’re rich

You don’t have to be a millionaire to have an estate. “Estate” is just a fancy word for “the things you own.” Your estate is made up of all sorts of assets, large and small. A modest house, a car with a few miles under its belt, a collection of antique guitars, bank accounts, a 401K or life insurance policy…maybe even some small investment accounts, a set of dinnerware passed down to you by your great-grandmother. What you have matters, and you deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that it’s going to be properly managed and distributed per YOUR wishes, and not the wishes of the state. An Estate Plan provides security while you’re here, and for your loved ones after you’re gone.

5. MYTH: A few online forms are all you need to draft an Estate Plan

There are many services on the web offering DIY forms, and documents claiming to be sufficient for all of your estate planning needs. However, to ensure that your plans are legally sound, it is highly recommended to seek legal counsel from an estate planning lawyer. You may be one of the very, very few who CAN get away with a DIY Estate Plan, but talk it out with a qualified attorney beforehand because these DIY Estate Plan packages can actually create pitfalls and problems that cause your plan NOT to work.  The simple act of consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer could save you money, and your loved ones heartache.

For a more comprehensive guide that will help demystify the estate planning process, download our Estate Planning Handbook. You’ll get answers to common questions about Wills, Trusts, Probate and other estate planning matters, and gain a deeper understanding of the various documents that could help you secure your future, and the future of your family and loved ones.

Monique Hineline

Smith & Smith are very professional, informative, and relatable with examples and stories to ease the estate planning process. I had the best time at their lunch and learn. Even if you already have your estate planning in place I highly recommend attending a lunch and learn. Thanks Smith & Smith!