Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic. Nobody enjoys talking about death or what’s going to happen to our property after we die. But estate planning is an important process to protect your beneficiaries from creditors, poor decisions, family conflict, and stress. Here are five things most people get wrong about estate planning.
1. “I’m not a multimillionaire. Estate planning is only for the rich.”
This is one of the most common misconceptions an estate planning attorney will hear. Everyone has property they value, be it grandpa’s old wristwatch, a piano, or a piece of real estate. Perhaps there’s even a child who requires long-term care. Everyone should have an up-to-date estate plan in place, regardless of wealth.
2. “It’s not complicated. I can follow a DIY YouTube tutorial.”
Ask any business attorney, family law attorney, or an estate planning attorney about the consequences of doing any sort of “do-it-yourself” legal process. The legal system is complex and constantly changing. And if you’re not careful, you could leave behind a huge mess for your loved ones to clean up.
An estate planning attorney is always learning about the most recent changes and updates. One missed signature or mistake in wording could be extremely costly. When it comes to the legal system — where the smallest error could have the most undesirable consequences — we highly recommend not going the DIY route. Working with a professional will provide you with valuable peace of mind.
3. “I have a will. That’s good enough.”
A will is not the same as an estate plan. A will is a document that is just a small part of the estate plan. An estate plan takes into consideration many different legal documents and how they work together. The estate planning attorney will make sure all the legal documents, including the will, are in perfect order.
In the event of your death, there will be no family or business associate discord, confusion, or legal holdups. The process of handing your estate over to your beneficiaries will be smooth.
4. “I’m married. When I die, everything goes to my spouse.”
You may wish everything to go to your spouse after your demise, but there are many different legal and other complications that could arise that prevent this from happening. Everyone from creditors to business lawyers could go after your assets. An estate planning attorney will help make sure your designated beneficiaries legally get the assets you want them to get, without any legal loopholes.
As an asset class, residential real estate is a $29 trillion industry, while commercial real estate adds another $10 trillion. If you have residential or commercial real estate, it’s critical to have a beneficiary in place. Assuming that your spouse will automatically become your beneficiary could lead to major problems after your death.
5. “I’m in my thirties. I am years away from having to think about estate planning.”
In the event of your death, your residence could end up in probate court. Assuming you’re in your thirties, you might have a spouse and dependents. If so, this would be an enormous burden to place on them. Creditors, extended family, and other outside parties (e.g. personal injury attorneys) could also come after your estate. It’s never too early to start thinking about estate planning, even if you’re in the prime of life. Estate planning will allow you and your family to prepare for unexpected events; it’s better to have everything in place well before you need to than for loved ones to needlessly suffer later on.
Through years of experience and continuing education classes, estate planning attorneys understand the formalities involved in drafting a solid estate plan. In addition to estate planning, they can also help you draft a power of attorney and medical directives in case you become incapacitated.
Did you know 71.6% of Americans lack a will or estate plan? If you don’t already have your estate plan in place, now’s the time to get your affairs in order. Please contact us today to get started.