While it is true that thinking about one’s estate plan is not fun, not everything in life is fun. To justify the delay in creating an estate plan, people tell themselves lots of lies, such as talking about one’s death only makes it more imminent. However, dying without a will can leave loved ones confused on how to handle everything from the good china to the funeral.
One of the most common lies people tell themselves is that they do not need an estate plan because they do not have a lot of money. Even if one has a modest bank account or a family home, the decedent will want to know that their family members will be taken care of after they have moved on. Even if someone has no assets to their name, having a will can protect something more important than one’s finances-one’s family. A will can dictate who will take care of their children after their death and the manner in which their body should be handled.
Even when people have created an estate plan, a common mistake they make is failing to update it. Many believe that since their situation hasn’t changed, they do not need to update their estate plan. However, this is a very narrow view-even if one is still married to the same person and hasn’t had any more children since they last updated, it is possible that laws have changed. For example, the federal estate tax exemption has changed in the last 20 years by more than 1700%.
It is important to ensure that one’s estate plan is created and is up to date. While many believe a will is enough, the reality is that a will only dictates how assets that are passing through probate will be distributed. However, not everything goes through probate and it is important to ensure their allocation is outlined as well. An experienced estate planning and probate attorney can discuss your options with you.