There are many myths about wills, trust and other legal documents, and what is appropriate for a particular family. Below are some of the most common myths and facts about estate planning:
MYTH: I am young and don’t have a lot of money, so I don’t need a will. Wills are only for older and wealthy individuals.
FACT: It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much money you have – everyone has an estate. Your estate consists of all of your personal property (pets, furniture, art, jewelry, cars, and even the clothes on your back!), bank accounts and real estate are items that can be disposed of with a will. If you don’t have a will, the laws of your state of residence (called the laws of “intestate succession“) will decide who inherits your property. When most people find out how these laws work, they realize that they don’t want this to happen. Creating a will ensures that your property is distributed to the people you want.
MYTH: I don’t own anything to give to someone else when I die.
FACT: As discussed above, it doesn’t matter how much your property is worth, you still have an estate that needs to be settled when you pass. Many people have sentimental items that they want to pass on, including jewelry, photo albums and pets! If you have anything at all, you must name who should inherit it unless you want your state to decide for you.
MYTH: I talked to someone about caring for my kids if something happens to me. I don’t need to do anything else.
FACT: While it’s great that you have made tentative plans for your children’s care, your personal discussions in a court of law don’t mean much. In Arizona, the only place you can legally name a guardian to care for minor children is a will. If you don’t create one, a judge will pick who raises your children and who manages any assets you leave to your children. The judge may, or may not pick someone who you think is appropriate. You owe it to your family to ensure that they have the best possible care if something were to happen to you. Don’t leave this up to a stranger.
MYTH: A trust is only meant for rich people. I’m not rich so I can’t benefit from one.
FACT: Everyone can benefit from having a trust. A revocable living trust is an extremely useful estate planning tool when used correctly. With a trust, you can determine not only who should get your assets, but also how and when. You can say that children should get money to go to college, buy a house, start a business or anything else you desire. Lots of people want to “stage” how their assets are left to children, ie. 1/4 at age 25, 1/4 at age 30, 1/4 at age 35 and 1/4 at age 40. In addition, a trust can also be very beneficial if you were to become incapacitated. If that were to happen, the person you named as your successor trustee (the person who manages and distributes the assets in the trust) can step in and take care of your and your family’s needs. Another big benefit of a trust is that if it is properly funded it avoids probate. This keeps your personal information private and avoids the need to go to court.
MYTH: Attorneys are too expensive and I can’t afford an estate plan. Plus, I can’t see how an attorney can relate to my situation.
FACT: While it’s true that many attorneys are expensive and estate plans can be cost prohibitive, this isn’t true for all attorneys. At the Neal Law Firm, we offer comprehensive estate plans. We want you to be able to protect your family, and we have made it affordable for you to do so. In addition, we are a small firm that prides itself on being accessible to all clients – regardless of how much money they have. We have had many, many clients say to us “if I’d known it was that easy, I would have done my estate plan a long time ago!” We will make it easy for you too.
Everybody needs to be able to protect themselves and their families and we want to help you do so. Call Powers & Neal Law and ask for Abigail Neal at (480) 699-7992 today to get started.