No one wakes up in the morning wondering about the best approach to their estate plan, but it is certainly not something that should be overlooked. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about who should be worried about estate planning, what types of things should be included in an estate plan, and when someone should start thinking about their estate plan.
If you fail to plan, a judge will appoint someone to handle your assets and determine the course of your personal care should you become disabled. An estate plan gives you control over what happens after your death—and everyone needs to plan for that!
We want to take a moment to review some common misconceptions about estate planning so that there is a better understanding of why it is so important, and help to answer any questions surrounding a complete estate plan.
Top Misconceptions About Estate Planning
I have a small estate, so I don’t need to worry about this.
There is a misconception that only people with million-dollar-plus estates need to do estate planning and set-up a trust. Not true. Even if you have a relatively small estate, you still want to make sure it’s preserved (by avoiding probate with a trust) and that it goes to whom you want, in the way you want.
Proper estate planning ensures that in the event of your incapacity, the agent you appointed can manage your assets, pay your bills, manage your mail and many other important duties.
You also need a health care agent in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions. In the Advance Health Care Directive, you provide instructions to your agent about what your desires are if death is imminent.
I don’t need a lawyer to plan for my estate.
There are plenty do-it-yourself software kits and online services available to you. These services offer generic planning that may not fit your situation. You don’t know what you don’t know. I’ve seen countless horror stories upon a death or incapacity of a loved one, when it’s too late to modify the estate plan. You only get one chance to do it right. Estate planning is one area where you don’t want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Estate planning is expensive.
Not planning for your estate can be more expensive. It will also be costly to your family and friends in terms of time and effort to make sure that your wishes are carried out following your death. At the Estate Planning Law Center, we do not charge an hourly fee for our services, we charge a flat rate that will allow you to plan without the pressure of a growing bill.
I made an estate plan 10 years ago. I don’t need to do it again.
It is important to have your estate plan reviewed every 3 years to make sure that it is still relevant and will still meet your needs and desires. People, assets, and laws change, so it is important to look at an estate plan as a dynamic document that will change as your life changes.
I have a will. Isn’t that good enough?
Unfortunately, a will is only part of a proper estate plan. A full estate plan includes a revocable living trust, a pour-over will, power of attorney, advanced health care directives, HIPPA release, community property agreement, trust certification, a portfolio binder, and an ID card.
You Want to Leave a Legacy to Your Loved Ones That You Care About
Leaving a legacy of love is no better expressed than having an estate plan in place that provides good instructions for the successor trustee to follow. A plan that will minimize the possibility of disputes among your loved ones. Yes, a well thought out plan. It might include an asset protection trust for your loved one’s inheritance. That’s a real gift to give them.
At the Estate Planning Law Center, it is our goal to make sure that your estate plan is complete and correct according to California state laws.
If you need assistance with your estate plan, please call us at (818) 462-8400. We have over 25 years of experience and offer a free consultation to discuss your options.