Dispelling Estate Planning Myths
May 26, 2023
Estate planning is an essential step that everyone should take. It is the process of arranging the distribution of your assets and properties in the event of your death or incapacitation. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about estate planning that can mislead people and make them less likely to create an estate plan.
Our estate planning attorney at Caleb Bland Law, PLLC helps people create estate plans that put their goals and needs first. We can explain Kentucky’s laws regarding estate planning and ensure that you do not fall for estate planning myths that could hurt you and your loved ones in the long run. Reach out to our office in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, to start working on your estate plan. Our team also serves individuals throughout Nelson, Grayson, Meade, Hardin, Bullitt, Jefferson, LaRue, Breckinridge, and Hart counties.
Common Estate Planning Myths
Many people feel overwhelmed by the thought of estate planning and simply rely on hearsay or outdated information to guide their decisions. Additionally, estate planning laws vary by state, making it difficult to understand all the legal nuances involved. Below, we will dispel some of the most common estate planning myths and provide factual information:
Myth 1: “I do not need an estate plan because my family knows my wishes.”
This is one of the most common myths about estate planning. While your family may be aware of your wishes, an estate plan can help ensure that your wishes are carried out properly, legally, and without any disputes among family members. Estate planning includes the appointment of a guardian for minors, the distribution of assets, payment of debts and taxes, and healthcare directives, among other things. Without a proper estate plan, your family may have to deal with expensive court battles to settle your affairs.
Myth 2: “Estate planning is not necessary until you reach a certain age.”
Many people believe that estate planning only becomes necessary when they are old or sick. This is not true. Estate planning is important for anyone who has assets, regardless of age or health status. In fact, younger people may benefit more from estate planning because they have more time to grow their assets and accumulate wealth, which can be inherited by their loved ones.
Myth 3: “I haven’t accumulated enough assets to need an estate plan.”
Another misconception about estate planning is that it is only for wealthy individuals. Estate planning is not just about how much you have, but also how you want your assets distributed when you are no longer around. If you own a home, have a retirement account, or have any other assets, you should have an estate plan in place.
Myth 4: “An estate plan is used only to establish who gets what when I die.”
While the distribution of assets is a major part of estate planning, it is not the only function. An estate plan also includes components such as naming guardians for minors, setting up trusts to manage assets, appointing agents for healthcare decisions, and creating a plan for business succession. Estate planning is a comprehensive process that addresses many aspects of your life and legacy.
Myth 5: “I can use an online form instead of hiring an estate planning attorney.”
While there are many online resources and templates available for estate planning, you need to understand that each person’s situation is unique. Using an online form may not take into account all aspects of your personal and financial situation. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide personalized advice, draft documents that are specific to your needs, and help you avoid legal mistakes that could have negative consequences in the future.
Myth 6: “Creating a will means my estate will not go through probate.”
This is by far the most common estate planning myth out there. Many people believe that if they create a will, their estate will avoid probate. Unfortunately, this is not how it works. According to a guide by the Kentucky Court of Justice, probate is the legal process of winding up financial matters, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing their remaining assets after death—with or without a will. Creating a will simply tells the court how you would like your assets to be distributed, but it does not avoid probate. If you want to avoid probate, you should consider creating a living trust and discuss your other options with an attorney.
Myth 7: “If I die without a will, my family will decide who gets what.”
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. These laws vary by state, but generally, they favor spouses and children over other family members. However, if you have specific wishes for how your assets should be distributed, it's important to have a will so that your wishes are honored. Without a will, you have no say in where your assets go.
Myth 8: “An estate plan is set in stone for the rest of my life.”
Your estate plan should be reviewed periodically and updated as your life circumstances and preferences change. Your estate plan should reflect your current financial situation, your family dynamics, and your personal wishes for how your assets should be distributed. If you experience a significant life change such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or the acquisition of new assets, you should review your estate plan and make any necessary changes.
Get Peace of Mind
Estate planning is an essential part of financial planning that should not be neglected or postponed. Consult with our experienced estate planning attorney at Caleb Bland Law, PLLC to create a personalized plan that meets your unique needs and preferences. We are here to provide you with peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be met. Reach out today to request a free meeting.