Estate Planning: 5 Common Myths Debunked

5 Common Myths of Estate Planning Debunked

An astonishing number of Americans don’t have wills. In fact, 51 percent of Americans ages 55 to 64 are missing this critical document. A will is only one aspect of estate planning, but there are many other important aspects to consider.

This failure in planning is often the result of believing estate planning myths. For example, many people think they simply don’t have enough assets to require this detailed process. Learning the truth about these myths shows that estate planning is for everyone.

Myth No. 1: Estate Planning Is Only for the Wealthy

Estate planning involves many details that aren’t financial. For example, if you become unable to make medical decisions, who will make them on your behalf? Or if you die unexpectedly, who will have custody of your children?

Estate planning does include financial details, but there is more to it that affects people with minimal assets.

Myth No. 2: Estate Planning Is for Older People

People in their 20s or 30s might think that estate planning is for the elderly, but that’s not true. Situations arise where young people can benefit from estate planning, such as serious illness or an accident. If you plan ahead, then you’re covered.

Myth No. 3: Government Takes Property in the Absence of a Will

When there is no will, laws of the home state determine who will receive assets. Surviving spouses may receive everything in some states, while in others, it’s the children or parents.

Some people want to pass assets to a live-in significant other or a child who is not biological. In these cases, a will is critical. But it’s only the rare case (where there are no living relatives) that your assets are at risk for passing to the state.

Myth No. 4: Having a Will Eliminates Probate

Probate is a long and expensive process in which the courts decide who will get your assets. Having a will in place is a good idea because it provides guidance on your wishes, but unfortunately it does not avoid the probate process altogether.

A will is public information and can be contested in court, which adds more time and cost. Plus, if you own real estate in multiple states, it may have to go through probate in different states.

Myth No. 5: I Don’t Have Enough Money to Worry About Estate Tax

This statement may be true today, but it can change over time. For example, you might own real estate that appreciates over time. The value of retirement accounts or life insurance policies also add up. Together, your total assets may add up to more than you anticipate.

Estates valued at over $1 million are subject to estate tax, which is a very high percentage of your assets. Seeking guidance on how to maximize the amount of assets left to loved ones is always a good idea.

Do you need help with estate planning? Most people do. Our law firm is here to help you! We handle all the complex aspects of estate planning, making the process simple for you and your family. Our comprehensive approach ensures that no important details are overlooked. For more information, call me today at 914-437-5955.

About Author

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  • Michael LaMagna, LNHA, MPA, JD concentrates in the areas of Medicaid and Advanced Asset Protection Planning, Elder Law, Trusts and Estates, Probate and Probate Litigation, Guardianships, Health Care Regulatory Matters, Nursing Home Placement, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare Appeals, Social Security/SSI Litigation and Special Needs Law. If you have a question for Mr. LaMagna, please call him at (914) 437-5955.

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