Estate planning isn’t the most cheerful business, but it is essential for safeguarding your assets and loved ones. However, as important as estate planning is, common misconceptions prevent people from planning for their end of life. Here are some of the most common myths about estate planning and when you actually should have one:
1. Estate plans are just for the rich
While estate plans are commonly associated with the wealthy elite, the fact of the matter is that everyone has belongings they can’t take when they pass on. Estate plans also do more than just divvy up your assets. A proper estate plan can:
- Protect those who depend on you and your income
- Name guardians for your minor children
- Avoid the probate process
- Make plans for your funeral arrangements
- Provide instructions for your medical care and finances should you become incapacitated
2. Estate plans are just for the elderly
You may think an estate plan isn’t necessary when you’re still young and healthy, but unfortunately, life is known for changing in an instant. If you have a positive net worth, a bank account, a house, a car or any dependents, you have an estate to protect. The sooner you can put an estate plan into action, the better.
3. Your family will divide your assets amicably
Even if you’ve made your last wishes known to your family and loved ones, without an estate plan, these wishes aren’t legally enforceable. The probate process can unleash ugly conflicts between your family members – especially when money or other valuables are on the line. Having an estate plan that clearly states how assets should be divided can help to mitigate resentments down the road.
4. Estate plans don’t need to be updated
Life is full of the unexpected. You’ll need to revisit your estate plan from time to time to reflect your wishes and circumstances. If you get married, divorced or have new children or grandchildren you’d like to include in your estate plan, all of these scenarios would warrant an update. You may need to revise your plan if a beneficiary passes away or you no longer wish to include them. Generally speaking, you should try to update your estate plan every three to five years or as soon as a significant life event occurs.
Making end of life plans is never easy, but don’t let misinformation prevent you from protecting your legacy. An estate plan will give both you and your loved ones a great sense of relief