Kansas Estate Planning Attorney Exposes Two Estate Planning Myths
March 20, 2019
Myths and misinformation are everywhere. No topic is exempt. Unfortunately, the myths that exist on the subject of estate planning keep many people in the dark about whether they need an estate plan, what their estate plan should include, and other critical matters. Today, I would like to share some estate planning truth with you by exposing two estate planning myths.
One misconception that some people have about estate planning is that it is a one-and-done type of task. People who make an estate plan and do not revisit it periodically risk having results that they do not desire. For example, if a married couple makes wills that leave their entire estate to each other and then divorce and move on with their lives without changing their wills, the death of one of the formers spouses will result in the surviving former spouse inheriting the deceased former spouse’s entire estate. That is an extreme example of what can happen when estate plans are not revised in keeping with significant life changes, and there are many more subtle variations on the same theme. For example, your initial estate plan may include your children if you made the plan when they were young. If your children grow up and you become a grandparent, you may want your estate plan to include them, too, and that does not happen automatically. Changes to estate tax law or your financial situation are other events that make revisiting your estate plan a good idea. If many years have passed since you made your estate plan or if you have had any big changes in your life since that time, make time to work with your estate planning attorney on an estate plan update.
The other estate planning myth that needs to be exposed is the notion that a will is a complete estate plan. Some people believe that a will will distribute all of their assets when they pass away. This is not true, and just like other estate planning myths, it can lead to situations where misinformed estate planning results in outcomes that are not what the deceased person had in mind at the time they made their estate plan.
A will does not cover some assets, and those assets must be addressed in other ways through the estate planning process. These assets include common things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, as well as other financial products that many people obtain to provide financial security and stability to their loved ones. Each of those accounts or policies requires a beneficiary designation, and significant life changes like divorce or the death of a beneficiary require changes to those beneficiary designations to reflect your current plan for the disposition of those assets. What’s more, people who stop their estate planning efforts at making a will deny themselves the benefits of a comprehensive estate plan, such as the guidance that a health care directive would provide to their loved ones during a health crisis or the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone you trust will manage your affairs under a financial power of attorney if you become incapacitated.
Estate planning myths prevent many Americans from enjoying the full benefits of a comprehensive estate plan. If you would like to create or expand your estate plan, schedule a no-obligation consultation with Wichita estate planning attorney J. Joseph Weber. Call us to make an appointment today.