Estate planning is a vital process for just about everyone. However, it is a process whose public image is oftentimes marred by misinformation. It is essential that, when considering engaging in estate planning, you are able to effectively separate fact from fiction and make informed decisions about your legacy.
Here are 5 commonly held, false and damaging notions about estate planning you should be aware of:
1) Only for the elderly
One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that it is only for the elderly. It is true that estate planning is essential for the aging members of our society, but this fact does not reduce the importance of estate planning for adults of all ages. The fact is that estate planning is not just for death, and even if it were, the unfortunate truth is that none of us know when our time will come. Accidents happen every day, and whether you are killed or incapacitated, it is essential that you have an estate plan already in place.
2) Only for the rich
Yes—rich people own more assets. This does not change the fact that assets, any assets, will pass to your next of kin after you are gone. With estate planning, you can make your choices known and ensure that your estate is administered in accordance with your wishes. And as we just mentioned, estate planning is not just about how your assets will be managed after you pass away. Just read our blogs about Advance Healthcare Directives [LINK to June 2016 1 of 1] and Financial Powers of Attorney [LINK to January 2016 1 of 1] as evidence that estate planning is not just for the rich.
3) “I’m dead. What do I care?”
A recent example is the death of Prince. He left no will. In response, many people chimed in with the same sentiment. Even though you cannot take it with you when you are gone, do not leave your friends and family without guidance. This is especially true for blended families. Before forgoing estate planning, consider the burden you would be placing on the people you leave behind, even if you do not care about the assets or your end of life medical care.
4) My family knows what I want
Some of the worst human characteristics come out after someone dies. Even a close family can fall apart over the legacy and assets of a loved one. It becomes a battle of who loved the deceased more and who does not deserve a cent. True, your family may know what you wanted, but some may choose to ignore it. Without a will and other planning vehicles in place, they are not legally obligated to honor your wishes and may become caught up in harmful litigation with other loved ones over how to administer your estate.
5) If I am incapacitated, my family can just take care of things for me
Without estate planning, you are without plans for incapacitation. Who will take care of your bills? Handle banking, insurance, and medical documents for you? Who will make medical decisions for you? Your loved ones, and even your spouse, have less power to handle your affairs on your behalf than you might realize. They may not even have the power to learn about your medical state without a HIPAA authorization in some cases. With estate planning, you can choose to grant a durable power of attorney which will take effect if you are ever unable to manage your own affairs due to mental or physical incapacity. You can name agents to protect your interests and provide a detailed roadmap regarding your wishes for things like medical care, investments, your business, and more.
Do not fall victim to the many myths and misconceptions surrounding the estate planning process. Contact the law office of Carolyn Moller Duncan today to start the process of planning your legacy and protecting your family’s future!