Far too many people harbor misconceptions about various aspects of the estate planning process. Unfortunately, in many cases, they wind up making uninformed decisions that yield negative consequences. In an effort to spread awareness, we will debunk some of these myths here.
You can plan your own estate using tools that you get off the Internet.
There are websites that sell boilerplate legal documents. They provide some instructions, and you fill in the blanks on a template. The contention is that it is easy to plan your own estate, and there is no reason to seek any legal advice.
In fairness, we should affirm the fact that you do not have to carry a license to practice law to execute a last will or trust. Then again, you don’t have to have a medical license to drill your own tooth or give yourself stitches.
You do not try to create your own real estate transfer documents when you or buying or selling a home that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet, some folks think that they can arrange for the of transfer homes, cash, securities, and other pieces of property with no assistance.
DIY estate planning is risky at best, and you don’t have to take our word for it.
The highly regarded publication Consumer Reports conducted a study several years ago to get a handle on the situation. They had staffers create last wills using DIY downloads and worksheets that they got from three of the most popular legal document websites.
Three legal professors from major universities were asked to examine the documents and provide feedback. They stated that unintended outcomes can arise when these boilerplate notions are used by laypeople.
Ultimately, Consumer Reports stated that these “solutions” are no substitute for sound legal guidance.
A last will is the simplest and most effective asset transfer document.
Contrary to popular belief, a will is not administered independently by the executor. The document would be admitted to probate, and the court would provide supervision during the estate administration process.
It will typically take eight or nine months to a year, and the heirs do not receive inheritances during this interim. Expenses accumulate during probate as well, and it opens the door for disgruntled parties that may want to contest the will for one reason or another.
Probate is a public proceeding, so anyone that wants to find out how the assets were distributed could access probate records. Clearly, the administration process that goes along with the use of a will is not as simple as a lot of people think.
Trusts are only useful for multimillionaires.
There are trusts that are used by very wealthy people that have estate tax concerns. However, there are other trusts that are very useful for people that are not among the financial elite.
One of them is the revocable living trust, which is a very versatile estate planning tool. We will get into the details in another blog post.
Estate planning is only important for senior citizens.
We all know that the average lifespan is somewhere in the vicinity of 80 years, but this does not mean you should wait until you are 70 to put an estate plan in place. In fact, in a real sense, estate planning may more important for younger adults that have children depending on them.
As soon as your absence would cause hardships for people that you love, an estate plan becomes absolutely necessary. And even if you are single, you should have a plan in place to make sure that your wishes are carried out if the unthinkable was to take place.
We Are Still Here to Help!
If you would devise an initial plan or revise your existing estate plan, we are ready to help as always. We are offering consultations through videoconferencing, live stream, and over the telephone.
You can give us a call at 860-548-1000 to set up an appointment, and there is also a contact form on this website that you can use if you would like to send us a message.