If you have been thinking about planning your estate, you may have spoken to friends and family about it already. In this case, you have probably heard plenty of estate planning myths. Getting the correct facts about planning your estate is essential, and falling prey to misconceptions can throw you off the right track. Here are a few myths you should be aware of:
Myth: I don't have an estate, so I don't need to do anything.
Reality: You don't need to even own property to have an estate. Your estate includes everything from your will to medical decisions made on your behalf.
Myth: Marriage is the only way to protect your assets.
Reality: Yes, estate planning can be easier when somebody is married. Still, it is not the only way to ensure that you are legally protected. Even unmarried couples can plan an estate together.
Myth: You don't need a will or power of attorney if you are married.
Reality: Simply because you are married does not mean that your assets will be distributed exactly as you wish them to be, and it does not mean that your spouse will automatically be entrusted with power of attorney duties. It is still wise to draft a power of attorney to ensure the proper decisions are made.
Myth: I am forced to leave my assets to family members when I die.
Reality: Actually, you do not have a legal duty to pass your assets to relatives. The only time this is a legal requirement is typically when you have minor children.
Myth: Once I make my will, nobody can contest it.
Reality: The truth is that your relatives can contest your will for any reason. Lawyers find that this is increasingly common in cases of same-sex relationships when family members question the validity of the couple's legal affairs. You cannot prevent somebody from contesting your will, but you can make your estate plan stronger in case somebody does.
Myth: Pre-nuptial agreements are for rich people.
Reality: You don't need to be wealthy to craft a pre-nuptial agreement. These agreements are meant to anticipate differences in finances, professional status, and citizenship.
Myth: All attorneys are equally equipped to handle estate planning issues.
Reality: It is important that you carefully select an attorney for the planning of your estate. You can ask questions regarding your specific case to ensure that you choose the right attorney to handle your estate.
Do you want us to dispel myths you've heard about estate planning? Contact us to learn more.