Planning your estate ensures your assets and possessions will be distributed according to your wishes. Furthermore, it lightens the burden on grieving family members caught up in funeral planning.
Despite all of the above benefits, many people will die with no will or any other instrument delineating how, and to whom, they want their property distributed after they die.
Why is this the case? For many people, talking about estate planning is morbid, for others it’s intimidating – lawyers, paperwork, costs, etc. Additionally, many other myths exist about the process that make people delay planning their estate until it’s too late. Thankfully, many of these are easily dispelled under closer scrutiny.
To change perceptions about the estate planning process, here are three common estate planning misconceptions and why they’re wrong.
It’s only for the wealthy
Yes. It’s true, many of us will never have to worry about who inherits our Beverly Hills mansion or our pet tiger, but we all accumulate wealth and possessions during our lives. We work hard for the roof over our head, the car in our driveway, and all our other assets and possessions. Planning your estate ensures that your most valuable items end up in the rights according to your wishes, not the whims of the state.
It’s only for the elderly
We all like to think we have a long time left on this planet, but the unfortunate reality is that death can come at any moment. Planning your estate when you’re young is the best way to spare your loved ones the arduous, and often contentious, task of apportioning your possessions.
A will is all I need
Not so fast. Yes. A will is a good start, but estate planning goes way beyond that. For example, retirement funds such as a 401k are not subject to probate proceedings and thus transfer directly to the designated recipient. Therefore, a will is not sufficient to ensure those funds end up in the right hands.
By planning your estate early, you’re not only protecting your own interests but the interests of your relatives as well. Having a plan ensures that the wealth you earned is passed down to the next generation – or to whomever you see fit.
An estate planning attorney can provide you with options tailored to your unique needs and concerns. Once a decision is made, they chart path forward and get the ball rolling.