So you've been hearing about estate planning, and if you're anything like the average Joe or Jane, there's a pretty good chance you've come across a myth or two. Yes, the world of wills, trusts, and probates is rife with misconceptions. And today, we're going on a myth-busting mission.
Let's dive right in and separate the fact from the fiction, shall we?
1. Myth: "Estate planning? That's just for the wealthy!”
Busted! Here's the deal: you don't need to have a Scrooge McDuck-style vault of gold coins to benefit from estate planning. Sometimes it’s MORE necessary for folks without a lot of money. Consider Todd, a widower with just $10,000 in a bank account. He didn’t have an estate plan because he thought he didn’t “need” one. Todd suffered an injury on the job and was incapacitated. He wanted his daughter, Jane, to access his account to pay his bills. But because he didn’t have a Power of Attorney naming Jane as his agent, she had to get permission from a judge to access her father’s account. And that court proceeding ate up almost all of the $10,000 Todd had worked so hard to save. This would not be a problem for someone with a lot of money, but for Todd and Jane, not having an estate plan was financially devastating.
2. Myth: "I'm young and healthy. Estate planning is for older folks”
Busted! Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball. While we all hope for long, healthy lives, the unexpected can—and does—happen. Estate planning is really about being prepared for any eventuality, even the ones you aren’t expecting. It's about making sure you have a say in who looks after your kids if you can't, who manages your social media accounts, and who gets your assets when you’re gone. Bottom line? It's never too early to start thinking about your wishes and getting them down on paper.
3. Myth: "A simple will is all I need. Why complicate things?"
Busted! A simple will doesn’t actually accomplish very much. First, it doesn’t cover everything you own. Assets with a beneficiary like life insurance are not covered by your will. And any jointly owned assets will automatically go to the other owner no matter what your will says. Second, wills have to be probated before your estate can be distributed. This is a process that can take up to 2 years, can eat up as much as 7% of the estate assets, and is public. For these reasons, most of my clients choose to do a revocable living trust, which is like a will, but covers all of your assets while also avoiding probate court.
START YOUR ESTATE PLANNING TODAY
Remember, estate planning isn’t about being wealthy or old—it’s about being prepared. And if you ever have questions or need some guidance, we're here to help. Start by booking a Peace of Mind Planning Session. You’ll fill out a questionnaire, and we’ll talk about your goals and concerns. Then we’ll present your options and our flat fees. If we decide we’re a good fit to work together, we’ll discuss next steps. The session is normally $350, but mention this blog and we’ll waive that.