Five Common Estate Planning Misconceptions

Estate planning is an essential part of helping people to deal with troubles that are likely to arise later in their lives, as well as issues that may come up after they pass away. However, not everyone understands estate planning, and some people have a serious lack of understanding about what the process of planning your estate entails. Here are five of the most common misconceptions people have about estate planning:

  • It is okay to put off estate planning if you are young and healthy
    • A surprisingly common belief that many people have is that you do not need to plan your estate, so long as you are relatively young and healthy. While it is true that estate planning is a more urgent matter for older people and those with serious health problems, the fact of the matter is that you cannot predict what will happen. Beginning planning your estate early can help protect you in the event of a serious accident or another unforeseen tragedy. Not having an estate plan may create serious issues if you leave behind children under the age of 18, regardless of your marital status.
  • You don’t need to plan your estate if you don’t have a lot of money or property
    • Far too many people see estate planning as something for the wealthy, whereas people who have relatively little in the way of money or property don’t need to worry about it. While it is true that people with large estates often have more complex legal issues to deal with, anyone can benefit from estate planning. It makes the process of distributing your estate faster and easier, as well as reducing the chances of your estate being distributed in a way you would not want.
  • Once you’ve made an estate plan, you don’t need to worry about it again
    • Another common misconception people have is that estate planning is a one-and-done deal. The fact of the matter, though, is that people’s estates tend to change over time, as do their relationships with the people they care about. As a result, an out-of-date estate plan can be as problematic as not having an estate plan at all. This is especially true if you marry, have children or have more children after your initial estate plan.
  • Once you pass away, your debts and liabilities stop being an issue
    • Some people believe that, once they pass away, they do not need to worry about their debts or liabilities. However, creditors feel much differently about that, and they will happily go after your estate after you pass away to try to satisfy any debts you still owe them. Without a proper estate plan, you may see your loved ones’ inheritances disappear into the pockets of creditors.
  • You can handle estate planning on your own
    • Some people try to handle estate planning on their own, thinking that hiring a lawyer is too expensive or too much of a hassle. However, many who do so will find themselves overwhelmed, make a critical error in planning their estates or fail to complete an estate plan in the proper forms. Templates downloaded from the internet do not necessarily comply with the laws of your state and also increase the risk of litigation once an aggrieved beneficiary sees that an estate plan was not professionally prepared. That is why it is important to contact a lawyer with knowledge of estate law, who can assist you in creating an estate plan that works best for you.

 

Do not wait until it is too late to begin planning your estate. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, and Sweeney understand that the aging population has specific and diverse needs. The firm helps seniors and their families by handling all aspects of elder law including end of life planning, asset preservation, Medicaid planning, and trusts and estates issues. If you need to consult on elder law issues, call The Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney at (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

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