Busting Common Myths About Estate Planning

You may be following the news on the artist Prince's estate or you may wonder how to put your own affairs in order. Whatever captures your attention at this time related to estate planning, it is helpful to be aware of — and steer clear of — common myths about estates and estate planning.

Knowledge is power, as they say. Understanding what will happen to your assets in the future is part of building a legacy. The estate planning law firm of Wayne P. Marsh, PLC, in Sun City, helps Arizonans recognize and correct wrong notions such as:

Estate planning is for the elderly. Not only for them! Adults of all ages should acknowledge the value of estate planning. If we consult age-of-death statistics provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services for 2014, we can see substantial numbers of deaths listed for people in all age groups. The most common ages of death that year were between 70 and 90 (as we might expect): almost 9,000 people died in their 70s, and more than 11,000 people died in their 80s. However, large numbers also die in younger age brackets every year. More than 1,000 Arizonans died in their 30s in 2014. More than 2,000 died in their 40s, and almost 5,000 died in their 50s. It may be uncomfortable to consider the possibility of an early death, but this is many people's reality.

Estate planning is for the wealthy. It is true that people with complex asset portfolios have more details to consider in their estate plans. However, it is just as important for people of more modest means to prepare for the inevitable. Middle-class people are often concerned about health care choices in old age or in case of a terminal illness. They typically hope to pass on unused funds from retirement accounts to their children and/or preferred charities. A will (and one or more trusts, if appropriate) can make the decedent's wishes legally binding.

You can't take it with you, so you don't need to worry about estate planning. Keep in mind that the state of Arizona has a plan for distribution of your assets if you do not leave a will or establish a trust. You may not agree with the standard intestate inheritance plan according to state laws.

A do-it-yourself will from the internet will do just fine. Trying to create your own will may be one of the worst ideas. It is too easy for amateurs to make mistakes that can nullify fill-in-the-blank wills or handwritten instructions. Talk to an estate planning lawyer about sensible, affordable options that can prevent legal and practical troubles for your family after your death.

No one in your family would possibly bring a will contest against another family member. Many people find it hard to imagine that their children — or children and a second spouse — or brothers and sisters — or designated nonprofit beneficiary and family members — would actually take each other to court to fight over assets after their death. Yet this happens every day somewhere in Arizona. Remove burdens from the next generation by putting a solid estate plan in place.

Request A Consultation With An Attorney To Replace Myths With Truth

Take advantage of a free initial consultation at Wayne P. Marsh, PLC, to learn about cost-effective ways to protect your assets for the next generation according to your wishes. He can meet with you in a satellite office near your Valley location. Call (623) 933-7427 or (888) 251-5153 (toll free) or email us to inquire.

The Top Five Mistakes To Avoid In Estate Planning

Proper estate planning can be one of life's greatest bargains. A modest expenditure in legal fees can save large amounts of money and time for family members when testamentary documents become critically important.

With so much information available on the internet, it is understandable why "do-it-yourself" estate planning appeals to some people. Yes, you can find template wills and learn a lot by surfing the Web, but you cannot get personalized advice suitable to your circumstances in your state any better way than consulting with a local attorney you can trust. Wayne P. Marsh in Sun City is prepared to help you avoid common mistakes and devise an estate plan that will achieve your objectives. Contact the law firm to discuss the most convenient satellite location near you to meet with him. Learn how to make your estate plan work as it should.

So What Are Common Mistakes Many People Make In The Area Of Estate Planning?

One: The most common — and potentially the worst — mistake you can make is a failure to plan for your future at all. Ignoring the realities that everyone faces someday, you may put off essentials such as creating a will, signing a health care directive, double checking beneficiaries on your life insurance policy and wording a trust correctly. Procrastination in such areas has left many families in a lurch as they try to pick up the pieces after an unexpected death.

Two: All families experience change over time. A marriage, a divorce, a second marriage, the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, the marriage of a child, the death of a parent — these and other changes may make your estate plan out of date. Failure to review one's will, trusts, and powers of attorney and update as needed is another common mistake. You may end up with unintended consequences such as gifting money to an ex-spouse or putting family heritage properties at the risk of loss through divorce of a married child someday.

Three: Do you entertain notions of escaping estate planning by putting your home in a child's name (for example)? This may seem like a cheap and easy way to avoid creating a will or trusts to facilitate instant transfer of property after your death. But what will happen if your child is sued by someone after a car accident or a business failure? What if he or she goes through a divorce or has to file bankruptcy? Your assets could be lost when they could have been protected through a more conservative approach. Gifting children methodically during your lifetime can have its advantages, but full-scale "estate planning by gifting" before death can backfire in ways you do not expect.

Four: Creating a trust can be a powerful way to help your beneficiaries avoid probate for most or all of your estate. However, failing to follow through and fund the trust can make it ineffective. An estate planning lawyer who guides you to set up a trust should also ensure that all pieces of the puzzle are in place. Wayne P. Marsh's years of experience keep him sharp-eyed and on the cutting edge. He can help you avoid this kind of mistake.

Five: All the estate planning in the world will do no good if the people who will put it into effect after you die or become incapacitated do not know about it and do not know how to implement provisions of your testamentary documents. Perhaps you and your children feel uncomfortable talking about death. It may make you uneasy to think of losing control of your assets even though you know this is inevitable someday. Communication, then, is a key component of effective estate planning. This may mean simply keeping your spouse, children and siblings aware of who your attorney is, where your key documents are and where to find spare keys and lock box combinations. Likewise, you should ideally keep your estate planning lawyer informed of life insurance policies and other assets that may affect the total amount your beneficiaries may receive upon your death.

What Estate Planning Mistakes Might You Make Without The Right Advice?

Talk this matter over with an Arizona lawyer you can trust to listen and deliver personalized, up-to-date counsel and solutions. Email Wayne P. Marsh, PLC, through this website or call (623) 933-7427 or (888) 251-5153 to schedule a consultation.