If asked, most people would state that they recognize the importance of planning for the future. For many, this would include the estate planning process. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions regarding the process that could skew how people in Texas and across the country view it.
First, many people believe that the creation of an estate plan is essentially planning for death. While a plan will provide instructions regarding the distribution of assets upon a person’s death, it also plans for an unexpected illness or injury that could result in incapacitation. Signing a power of attorney ensures that there is someone who can immediately step in a make financial and/or medical decisions should incapacitation occur.
Additionally, many people falsely believe that a will is the only tool to direct the division of assets. However, many assets — such as retirement funds — have a named beneficiary that trumps what is listed in a will. Likewise, certain accounts allow designations that have the right to survivorship or payable on death, for example. Additionally, some people choose to transfer their assets to a living trust that controls distribution.
Another misconception is that once an estate is completed, it will not need to be changed. The reality is that estate planning is often an ongoing process, and a plan will likely need to be updated periodically to account for changes in wishes, to determine whether any changes in law impacts the plan and to review and update beneficiaries. To help people ensure that their plan reflects their wishes and is less vulnerable to a successful challenge, many in Texas hire an attorney with experience in this area to help them during the creation and revision process.