Top 10 Estate Planning Myths & Misconceptions
If you have ever heard, said, or believed any of these statements, then you have fallen prey to some of the most common Myths & Misconceptions about Estate Planning. Every single one of these is a falsehood.
Whether you are single or married with kids, in your twenties or your eighties, come from modest means or are the beneficiary of a dynasty trust, you need an effective estate plan as much as the next person (Myths #1-3). Furthermore, a Will is only one of the estate tools needed to properly and thoroughly protect you and your loved ones. If a Will is all you have, then you do not have an estate plan. You have a singular document. Although something is better than nothing, both you and your loved ones are still at risk (Myth #10).
Do not confuse Estate Planning attorneys with funeral home directors. Estate planning involves a lot of PLANNING FOR LIFE and developing ways to protect your family right now (Myth #5). Estate planning is also not something you do once and then forget about it. The legal landscape is constantly shifting, and your plan will need to change too. "One-and-done" may carry the day in college basketball, but it is not a good approach for estate planning (Myth #6).
Our April 2016 post went into greater detail about how property ownership greatly impacts estate planning and why a recent relocation may signal a need for a review of your estate plan (Myth #7).
The next time you visit your dentist, hand him your glasses and tell him that you're not seeing too well so you were wondering if he could evaluate your prescription while you were there. Who cares if he looks at you like you have two heads? Your dentist is a doctor. Your optometrist is a doctor. All doctors are the same, right?
OF COURSE NOT!
Why, then, would you believe that all lawyers are the same? Please do not ask the guy who gets you out of your traffic tickets to do your will. It makes as much sense as handing your glasses to your dentist (Myth #8).
Don't go it alone! A D-I-Y will is a recipe for disaster (Myth #9). This mistake will end up costing your family much more than the bit of money you save downloading an internet form. You may think "I can't afford to meet with an attorney." The truth is you can't afford not to. You may lose your breath laughing over your latest "Pinterest Fail," but no one will be laughing when your $99 will is thrown out of court or the trust you created to avoid probate fails and your creditors consume your estate. It is always more expensive to clean up the mess than it is to do it right the first time. If you need surgery to save your life, you rely on a trained professional to do the work. Let a trained professional do the work to save your legacy!
And I can promise you, your family will not "figure it out" after you're gone. They are grieving. They are struggling. Do not make it worse by dumping the responsibility to "figure it out" on their shoulders. Love them enough to do better...to plan better (Myth #4).