Most people think that wills are a “one and done” sort of document. However, tax laws change and so do family dynamics. People who have minor children, really need to make sure that their will includes the naming of a guardian, as well as a trustee to manage assets on the children’s behalf. Just because you have a will, advises the Cleveland Jewish News in the article “Estate planning myths common, but debunkable,” doesn’t mean your work is done.
One common myth is that a trust is completely creditor protected. While there are some trusts that achieve this goal, there are many that don’t.
Another myth is that once an estate plan is completed, there’s no need to revisit or make changes.
Perhaps the biggest myth around estate plans, is that they are only needed by wealthy people. Actually, everyone needs a will.
People chat with their friends and neighbors and pick up snippets of information, which is usually incorrect. As with any kind of story, once a piece of information has moved through a few different people, it becomes confusing, even if it started out accurate.
Unless it comes from an estate planning attorney, don’t get any legal advice at a neighborhood or family gathering. The results can be disastrous.
If you think having a trust alone is enough to prevent your heirs from having to pay any taxes, your kids will be in for a big and expensive mistake.
If you don’t set up guardianship for your minor children, then the court will appoint a guardian. It’s entirely possible that it may be a person you would never have wanted to raise your children. If a separate financial trustee is not named, there won’t be any checks and balances on how the money left for your children is spent.
If you don’t have an estate plan in place, and especially if your family includes minor children, make an appointment to speak with an estate planning attorney soon. They’ll talk with you about your family, your hopes for what would happen if you should pass and create a series of legal documents that will protect you, while you are living (like a power of attorney and a medical power of attorney) and after you have passed.
Don’t let the myths keep you from planning for the future and protecting your family.
Reference: Cleveland Jewish News (Sep. 20, 2018) “Estate planning myths common, but debunkable”