In my practice, clients come to me with preconceived ideas regarding Estate Planning, and many of them are incorrect. Due to this, I decided to create a blog series to debunk the most common myths.
Estate planning is about defining your legacy during your lifetime, enabling you to enjoy the impact it has on the people and organizations you support; ensuring loved ones who depend on your income are protected in the event of your incapacity or death; and ensuring your wishes and preferences are communicated and can be met should you require long-term care, among other goals. It helps to answer important questions, including who will have the legal authority to act on your behalf if you’re unable to do so during your lifetime, whether that’s managing your assets or important healthcare decisions and who is going to be tasked with making sure it happens.
To help clarify the role of estate planning, it’s important to debunk some of the most common myths, beginning with: Who needs an estate plan?
MYTH #1: Estate planning is only for those with high net worth.
Estate planning is not only for the 1%.
Often, people believe that estate planning only benefits the uber wealthy, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you own property and assets or have loved ones that depend on you to provide for their income or care, you have an estate and need a plan—regardless of your estate size. Estate planning is something everyone needs to engage in regardless of age, the estate size, or marital status. If you have a bank account, investments, a car, home, or other property—you have an estate. More importantly, if you have a spouse, minor children, or other dependents, an estate plan is critical for protecting their interests and their future income needs.
An estate plan can help you accomplish these and other important goals:
- Name your Power of Attorney & Health Care Surrogate should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs during your lifetime.
- Document the type of care you prefer to receive should you become ill or incapacitated, including any life-prolonging medical care you do or do not wish to receive. Express your wishes and preferences for funeral arrangements and how related expenses will be paid.
- Protect those who depend on you and your income during their lifetime.
- Name your executor and/or trustee – the individual(s) or institution you appoint to administer your estate and distribute your property after your death.
- Name guardians for minor children.
- Avoid probate, the court process for proving that a deceased person’s will is valid —I call this Probate Proofing and I advise clients every day how to do this both with my help and on their own.
- Name the family members, loved ones, and organizations you wish to receive your property following your death.
- Transfer property to your heirs and any organizations you’ve named in your estate planning documents in a tax-efficient and expedient manner, with as few legal hurdles as possible.
- Manage tax exposure.
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Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law serves clients in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Melbourne and beyond with matters of Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Probate Law. Contact her today to schedule a free consultation. Visit her page on Facebook, or see what her clients are saying to learn more about Heidi.