Top 10 misconceptions about estate planning: Part 1 of 2

There are many myths about estate planning, probably because it’s something most people don’t like to thing about that much.  We’ve taken the top 10 estate planning myths that could prove detrimental to your family and will tell you why they’re not true; here are the first 5:

Estate planning is only for the rich.  On the contrary, estate planning is not just about money.  It’s about who will make healthcare or financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated, who will take care of your minor children if you die unexpectedly, how your healthcare decisions will be made and much more.  Estate planning is for anyone who will eventually die – which means everyone.

Estate planning is only for the elderly.  Was Amy Winehouse “elderly” when she died at 28?  We all know stories of celebrities who died too young, many without a will or estate plan.  And many of their estates are still being fought over in the courts.  This happens every day to “regular” people as well.  You are never too young for estate planning.

The state gets your assets if you die without a will.  The state will not get your assets if you die without a will, but a state probate court will decide where those assets go, according to each state’s intestacy laws.  In Florida, a spouse and children take precedence; after that, assets will go to parents, siblings, grandparents, or any other living relative.  If no relation to you exists, your assets will go to the state.

Having a will avoids probate.  Having a will does not avoid probate; it provides the court with guidance on who you want to inherit your assets, but it is public record and can be contested, adding more time and expense to an already long and expensive process.  And if you own real estate in more than one state, each property may have to go through probate in the state where it is located.

You need a lawyer to draft a will.  If you have very few assets and a simple estate, you can create a will at little or no cost by using one of a number of websites that offer these services.  However, it is usually best to have an estate planning lawyer review your draft will to ensure it complies with state law and accurately reflects your wishes.

At The Estate, Trust and Elder Law Firm, P.L. we help our Treasure Coast clients develop and implement comprehensive estate planning strategies personally tailored to their unique situation, needs, and goals.   Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.