If movies, novels and popular opinion are to be believed, no one ever receives anything from a will until the deceased person’s attorney gathers everyone in a room and reads the terms out loud. While this makes for good drama, it isn’t true. In fact, there are several common myths about wills.
Myth 1: The government will tax your estate to death, so you don’t need a will anyway. With all the uproar about death or estate taxes, few people realize just what these taxes are. To start with, the federal estate tax for 2011 only applied to an estate worth more than $5 million. Some states may have estate taxes that may apply to an estate that is less than $5 million. But even so, they don’t take all your estate property, so there is still a lot to pass down.
Myth 2: My will has to be read. There is no law in any state that requires a Hollywood-type reading of a will. While a court has to determine if the will meets state laws, the executor of an estate is under no obligation to read the will to anyone as he or she completes his duties. You may include a reading clause in the will, but there is little reason to want to do this as it is a needless complication.
Myth 3: I can dictate my last will on my death bed. This is partially true. A small minority of states allow for oral wills when you are dying, but in most states oral wills are invalid.