Five Myths About Estate Planning

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Many people have misconceptions about the need for, or costs of, estate planning. Some individuals think that unless you are wealthy, a will is all that is needed. But if you have children, especially young children, a trust may be a much better option to cover your needs. If you have a house, boat or other assets, it’s important to ensure they are handled according to your wishes, and in the best manner to minimize tax implications. All of these factors can greatly impact you, in the event of your incapacitation, and your family, in the event of your death. Take the quiz below to determine how much you know and check your answers below.

  1. “If I have a will, I will avoid the probate process, right?”

False. A last will and testament will not help you avoid the probate process. A will actually guarantees probate! A last will and testament only informs the probate court how you wish to have your assets distributed upon your death.

  1. “I can handle a decedent’s estate because I am the power of attorney.”

False. A power of attorney is a document that applies only while a person is living. After that person passes away, the power of attorney and your authority ceases to exist. A power of attorney dies with the person. If you continue taking actions after a person passes away, you could become legally liable for actions taken.

  1. “I heard a revocable trust protects my assets from the nursing home. Is that true?”

False. A revocable trust will not give you protection from the costs of nursing home care. A slightly different trust, called an irrevocable trust, can offer such protections, but it comes with a number of factors worth considering if you want to see if such a tool is right for you. There are certainly other reasons to consider a revocable trust, but nursing home care protection is not one of them.

  1. “I do not need to have a trust because I am not wealthy.”

False. Wealth has little to do with whether you would benefit from a trust or not. It is more important to evaluate whether the efficiencies of avoiding the probate process and avoiding potential conflict and time for your heirs justifies the creation of a trust. Additionally, trusts can protect assets for minor children, special needs children, and family members who may have substance abuse issues, as well as general protection from your children’s divorce, bankruptcy and creditors.

  1. “I can use online resources to set up a trust or will.”

While almost anything can be obtained online in today’s technologically advanced world, there are a few areas where this is particularly unwise. Using templated documents for your will or trust is not a one-size-fits-all approach and could actually cause more harm than good. It is wiser to discuss your particular situation with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine the best options for you and your family. The costs to set up and file a will or trust are about the same as a weekend getaway and will potentially save your family a lot of pain and frustration when faced with the grief of your death. They will be glad you took the time to think through these processes with the help of an advisor. That advisor will also be there to help them should any questions or issues arise.

How did you do? Is your family protected in the event of your incapacitation or unexpected death? What happens to your children if something happens to you? Do you have questions about the best approach for your situation? Want more information? Visit www.frameandframe.com to download a free guide to wills, trusts and probate.

Frame & Frame Attorneys at Law has been assisting members of the community for over 65 years with life’s legal journeys. Contact Tara Frame today at 410-255-0373 if you need help with wills and trusts or probate administration services.

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