By Michelle N. Shupe-Abbas, Esq.
Estate planning is more than who gets your assets when you are gone.
Estate planning is the process of making a plan for health care wishes and final distribution of assets once a person dies. Many people fail to plan their estate for one of few reasons: they don’t know that an estate plan is more than just dealing with assets, they don’t think they have enough money to worry about, or they know and haven’t got around to it. This article discusses the top five estate planning myths and why you need an estate plan.
Most people want their family taken care of when they die. By not having a proper estate plan, the opposite is often the case as families may fight and assets are not transferred like a person wants.
The top five estate planning myths for why people fail to plan their estate:
1. Estate planning is just for the wealthy.
This myth arises out of the estate tax which doesn’t come into play for most people until they have several millions. Planning an estate is more than just protecting money. An estate plan also makes sure there is someone to manage finances and health should a person become incapacitated. It’s also about making sure minor children are planned for properly. Estate planning is for anyone who may become seriously ill or die…so you guessed it, everyone!
2. I already have a Will.
Most people think that once they have a Will that they are done. An estate plan should be reviewed with a lawyer every few years to make sure it reflects current wishes. If any one of the following has occurred, then it is an absolute must to review or make an estate plan:
- Moved to another state.
- Birth of a child or grandchild.
- Separated or estranged from a spouse.
- The death of a spouse.
- The death of intended beneficiary.
- Received inheritance.
- Acquired real estate or other expensive assets such as artwork or jewelry.
3. Everything will simply go to my spouse or children.
Today many families are blended with one or both of the spouses having children from a prior marriage and estate planning is one area that can be greatly impacted by the blended family. While most states have laws to determine who gets an estate when you die, the outcome of how things are distributed may be contrary than what you would imagine. The spouse could potentially be left with only a partial interest in property that they are unable to sell due to children of a prior marriage.
4. I’m too young for estate planning.
We never know when illness or incapacity will strike and then it will be too late to plan. Everyone that is over the age of eighteen should have some form of an estate plan. A younger person will have a simple plan, whereby someone who is older or acquired more assets may have one more complex. There are tons of stories of celebrities that died young who didn’t have a Will and their estate was tied up in litigation for years, for example, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and more recently Prince.
5. If I have a Will and Trust, I don’t have to worry about probate.
Probate is the legal process whereby assets are transferred to estate beneficiaries. One reason people often plan their estate is to avoid probate. Probate may take time and cost money, but probate is not the worst thing either. Probate is still often required to determine beneficiaries or to transfer title to certain assets. While most people may benefit from drafting a Trust, there are often other ways to transfer assets to avoid probate as well. A proper estate plan can often keep most assets out of probate, but not always so don’t be surprised if a probate will still be necessary.
Michelle Shupe-Abbas is a firm partner who focuses her practice on Estate Planning, Wills & Trust, Probate & Guardianship, and Real Estate Closings and Title. She is a seasoned attorney, with significant legal experience and has handled a wide variety of litigation and transactional matters for the firm.
At Shupe Dhawan, we make sure that we do an in-depth analysis and review of all your assets and healthcare wishes when developing your individualized estate plan. We are happy to answer questions and provide legal assistance. Contact us at 954-507-7220.
Make sure to visit our website at www.shupedhawan.com to learn more about the firm and partners!
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