Myth Busting: Estate Planning Myths Debunked
Myths are things we believe, but that are really not true. While some myths are amusing (bulls don’t really hate the color red) others may affect our behavior (hiding under a bridge when a tornado is nearby). Even estate planning is not immune from myths, so let’s engage in some myth busting.
Myth #1. Estate Planning Is Only for Really Wealthy People.
Every adult needs an estate plan. While wealthy people may need more advanced estate planning strategies, everyone who owns something needs to provide a way for their property to pass to their heirs. But estate planning is about more than property. Your estate plan addresses potential incapacity issues, leaving instructions about medical treatment, and providing access to digital assets.
Myth #2. A Will Can Be Written on Any Old Piece of Paper.
An informal Will could be written on a scrap of paper, but that doesn’t mean it will stand up in court.
For a Will to be valid, it must comply with the law. In Arizona, a Will must be in writing and be signed by the person making the Will (testator) and two witnesses. If a Will is handwritten, it is called a holographic Will and it must be in the writing of the testator only. Most people who write their own Wills typically don’t know the law. They miss out on important advantages that are known to trained attorneys.
When Wills are declared to be invalid by a court, the estate passes using the intestacy laws. Do you want to take a chance that the Will you wrote on a cocktail napkin will protect your family?M
Myth #3. Estate Plans Are for People Whose Families Don’t Get Along.
Even people with close knit families need the guidance offered by a well-drafted estate plan. It’s not unheard of for feuds to start over inheritances, especially if the estate is challenged in court. Make it easier for your family. Give them an estate plan that works for them.
Myth #4. Estate Planning Is Only About Money.
A comprehensive estate plan is about more than just passing on your money and property. Estate planning documents help you and your family manage your needs as you age. Advanced directives and powers of attorney give your agents the ability to represent you if the time comes. You can even make an ethical Will or legacy recording to share your life lessons and family history, something your family can enjoy for years to come.
Myth #5. Estate Plans Never Change.
Totally wrong. Your life changes, right? People are born and die, people marry and divorce. Net worth goes up or down. And your goals will certainly not stay the same from early adulthood through your golden years.
Estate plans should be reviewed every year or so. Life events may trigger modifications or at least a review. So, keep an eye on your estate plans. They’re not set in concrete.
Ready to Talk About Estate Planning?
To discuss your concerns with a qualified Arizona estate planning lawyer, call us at (480) 418-8448 or check out one of our free seminars.
Serving the greater Chandler area, including Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, and Tempe.