This is an article from the Law Office of Russell M. Blood (http://www.russbloodlaw.com/) in South Jordan, Utah, that we thought others may find helpful.
Like any other complex subject, estate planning has its share of myths and misconceptions. Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it’s needed.
Estate Planning Myth #1 – You Don’t Need an Estate Plan Because Your Spouse Will Inherit Everything
A common belief is that if you’re married and you don’t have a will or a trust, your spouse will still inherit everything. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Who inherits your estate (even if you’re married) depends on many different factors, including how your property is titled, who you have named on your beneficiary designations, and the laws of the state where you live and where you own property. The only way to insure that your spouse will inherit everything is to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and create an estate plan that will meet all of your goals.
Estate Planning Myth #2 – You Don’t Need an Estate Plan Because Your Family Knows Your Final Wishes
You’ve shared your final wishes with your family and you’re confident that they’ll “do the right thing” after you die. Unfortunately, without having these wishes written down in a valid will or a valid trust, there are several reasons that your family may not be able to fulfill your intentions. First, how your property is titled will determine who inherits it, not who you’ve told your family you want to inherit it. In addition, if you fail to complete or update the beneficiary designations for assets such as bank accounts and life insurance policies, your family won’t have any authority to tell the bank or insurance company who should inherit the proceeds. Finally, without an estate plan, the laws of the state where you live and any other state where you own property will dictate who inherits your probate estate, not your family. The only way to insure that your property will go to your intended heirs is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Estate Planning Myth #3 – Once You Have Created Your Estate Plan, It’s Finished
Let’s say you have taken the time to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney and create a proper estate plan. You may think that now you can sit back and relax because your estate plan is complete. While this attitude may seem reasonable, unfortunately, it is not. As the years go by, your life and the laws governing wills, estates, probate, trusts, and death taxes will change, which means that eventually your estate plan will become out of date. The only way to insure that your plan will work the way you intend it to work is to pull it out of the drawer every few years and have it looked over by your estate planning attorney.
Final Thoughts about Estate Planning Myths
These are only three of the top estate planning myths. Unfortunately there are many more. The only way to separate the myths from the reality and get a plan that will work for you and for your family is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney.
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