Estate Planning Myths We Tell Ourselves

Estate planning can be a very hard process. Although it’s not rocket science, making the decision to move forward requires us to face the fact that we will not live forever. This thought can stop many people right in their tracks, while others talk themselves out of seeing a qualified attorney based on some of the following common myths:

Myth #1: Estate Planning is Only for the Wealthy

Wealthy people have so much that certainly, they need planning and can afford to have the planning done correctly. The average person thinks about their own property and planning needs, they assume that it is not necessary because they do not deem their own assets valuable.

However, this could not be further from the truth. Estate planning is about more than just financial. While proper planning allows you to control who gets your money and property upon your death, the planning process also addresses what happens if you were to become incapacitated and selecting someone who would make decisions on your behalf. If you have not done any planning, the court will have to appoint someone to make your medical and financial decisions for you. This can be very time consuming, expensive, and can also wreak havoc on a family if they disagree about who should be appointed and how decisions should be made.

Myth #2: My Spouse Will Get Everything, so I Don’t Have to Plan

For several married couples, it is common to own property or bank accounts jointly. If these assets are owned jointly, when one spouse dies, then the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner. In most cases, this is the desired outcome for married individuals.

While it is convenient for assets to pass automatically to the surviving spouse, this distribution offers no protection. What if, after you die, your spouse gets remarried? If the accounts or property you owned jointly becomes your spouse’s only, your spouse is now able to spend it all in any way he or she wants without any thought for your wishes or the next generation. Your spouse’s new spouse could go out and buy a sports car with the money you envisioned to pass to your children. With blended families being common today, this is a real concern for many people.

Estate planning does not mean you should disinherit your spouse. Instead, it allows the two of you to sit down and plan out what happens to your joint property and accounts upon either of your deaths, ensuring that the survivor is provided for and that any remaining money and property are gifted in a way that is agreed upon by both of you.

Myth #3: A Will Avoids Probate

Many people believe that once they have created a will, whether drafted by an experienced attorney or using a DIY solution, they have avoided probate. Actually, they are wrong.

While a will is a great way to elect a person to carry out your affairs once you have passed. Determining who will get your hard-earned savings, property, and, if necessary, care for your minor children will be submitted to the probate court to begin the process. The court, who does not know you will make those decisions for you. The level of involvement by the probate court can vary depending on the circumstances, but this process is not private, as the will becomes a matter of public record.

We are here to help answer any questions you may have about estate planning, the estate planning process, or probate. Together, we can craft a one-of-a-kind plan to ensure that you and your family are properly protected. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today 970-776-3311!

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