Don’t Fall for It! Top 3 Estate Planning Myths – Busted!

Like any other complex subject, estate planning has its share of myths and misconceptions.  Understanding the top three estate planning myths will help you to create and maintain a plan that will work the way you expect it to work when it’s needed.
Estate Planning Myth #1 – I Don’t Need an Estate Plan Because My Spouse Will Inherit Everything
A common belief is that if you’re married and you don’t have a will or a trust, your spouse will still inherit everything.  Unfortunately this is not always the case.  Who will inherit your estate even if you’re married depends on many different factors, including how your property is titled (click here to find deeds for properties located in Cleveland County, Oklahoma), who you have named on your beneficiary designations, and the laws of the state where you live and any other state where you own property.  The only way to insure that your spouse will inherit everything is to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney who will help you create an estate plan that will meet all of your goals.
For example, when there is no estate plan in place, Oklahoma law may dictate that property (titled only in the name of one spose) is to be split between the surviving spouse and the children.
Estate Planning Myth #2 – I Don’t Need an Estate Plan Because My Family Knows My Final Wishes
You’ve shared your final wishes with your family and you’re confident that they’ll “do the right thing” after you die.  Unfortunately, without having these wishes written down in a valid will or a valid trust, your family may not be able to fulfill your intentions for several reasons.  First, how your property is titled will determine who inherits it, not who you’ve told your family you want to inherit it.  In addition, if you fail to complete or update the beneficiary designations for assets such as bank accounts and life insurance policies, your family won’t have any authority to tell the bank or insurance company who should inherit the proceeds.  Finally, as discussed above, without an estate plan, the laws of the state where you live and any other state where you own property will dictate who inherits your probate estate, not your family. Click here for the laws of the state of Oklahoma. Call us if you need help interpret them!
Estate Planning Myth #3 – Only the Rich Need Estate Planning.
This is simply not true. For example, legal proceedings (probate) may be required after the sole owner’s death whether the home/land/minerals are worth $30,000 or $3,000,000, when there is no estate plan in place.
Similarly, if all you have is just one financial account (bank account, life insurance, retirement…) with a value of over $50,000, and you have no listed beneficiaries, probate proceedings may have to be initiated  in order to collect the funds.
In addition, another very important aspect is that while proper planning allows you to determine who gets your money and property upon your death, the planning process also addresses what happens if you become incapacitated and someone has to make decisions on your behalf. Not having a Power of Attorney in place, may send your loves ones to court for a guardianship proceeding.
Final Thoughts About Estate Planning Myths
These are only three of the top estate planning myths.  Unfortunately there are many more.  The only way to separate the myths from the reality and get a plan that will work for you and for your family is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney.
Take advantage of our 30 minutes free consultations – see flyer above and more information on our Community Page!
Be sure to attend one of our Free Community Estate Planning Classes at The Well in Norman – Sign up here! or Learn more here!

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