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Dispelling Estate Planning Myths

Northwest Elder Law Center March 21, 2022

Meeting of Real Estate Broker with ClientAccording to a 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study by Caring.com, the top two reasons those surveyed didn’t have a will or living trust were that they “haven’t gotten around to it” and “don’t have enough assets to leave anyone.” Despite the continued awareness around planning for an uncertain future, many individuals still don't know what estate planning entails or believe it is only for people with a large estate. An experienced Washington estate planning attorney can enlighten you about the estate planning process and help clear up any misconceptions.

At Northwest Elder Law Center, Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has devoted his career to providing outstanding legal services and knowledgeable guidance to clients in estate planning-related matters. He's available to discuss your unique circumstances, explore your possible legal options, and determine the right estate plan that best suits your unique needs. Also, Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can help you draft important estate planning documents, including wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, special needs planning, and advanced healthcare directives.

Northwest Elder Law Center proudly serves clients across Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, Washington, as well as Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas.

Common Myths About Estate Planning

There is a lot of misleading information out there surrounding estate planning. Due to this, estate planning attorneys must take sufficient time to educate clients about the estate planning process and differentiate between facts and fiction.

Here are some common myths and misconceptions about estate planning and a brief explanation of why they are not true:

Myth #1: I don't have enough assets to necessitate an estate plan.

This is a common misconception. A lot of individuals choose to delay – or not create – their estate plan due to a belief that estate planning is only for people with large estates or assets. Contrary to this belief, estate planning isn't only for individuals who are wealthy. Whether you have a small or large estate, you can protect your assets, make adequate provisions for your loved ones, and mitigate conflicts between family members by creating an estate plan.

Myth #2: If I don't have a will, then my family will decide who gets what.

This is not true. If you die without a will in Washington (dying intestate), the state's intestate succession laws will determine how your estate or assets will be distributed to your surviving family members.

Myth #3: An estate plan is only to establish who gets what when I die.

Apart from giving you absolute control regarding who inherits your assets when you die, an estate plan can also help you achieve the following:

  • Protect your assets, property, investments, and interests.

  • Make suitable provisions for your surviving loved ones.

  • Protect your minor children and ensure that they are properly cared for.

  • Mitigate family disputes and conflicts over asset distribution.

  • Choose a reliable person as your personal representative.

  • Name a guardian for your minor kids or a caretaker for your pets.

  • Avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process.

  • Help beneficiaries avoid or reduce gift, estate, and inheritance taxes.

  • Protect your assets, investments, and businesses from creditors and frivolous lawsuits.

  • Ensure that you do not die intestate.

Myth #4: Estate planning isn't necessary until you retire.

This is another common misconception. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't only for older adults, seniors, or those who are about to retire. Regardless of your age – whether you are a young adult in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or even older – you can benefit from drafting an estate plan that fits your unique needs.

Myth #5: A will is the only thing that I need in my estate plan.

This is not essentially true. In addition to having a will, there are other important estate planning documents you need to include in your comprehensive estate plan. Other possible documents include trusts, powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, special needs planning, letters of intent, and personal property memorandums. Some other documents you should also include are birth certificates, bank accounts, bills, divorce records, life insurance policies, real estate deeds, annuities, and retirement accounts.

Myth #6: If I have a will, my estate won't have to go through probate.

Having a will doesn't necessarily mean your estate won't have to go through probate. A will must be filed with the probate court in Washington within 40 days of the decedent’s death to establish its validity. Nevertheless, having a last will and testament can help accelerate the probate process. One of the possible options to bypass probate is by creating a trust.

Myth #7: I created an estate plan years ago, so there is nothing left to do.

To ensure that the provisions of the will or estate plan still agree with your current wishes, it is important that you review and update the documents regularly. Many estate planning attorneys recommend doing this every three to five years.

Myth #8: Using an online form is just as effective as hiring an experienced attorney.

When drafting your estate plan, getting experienced guidance is crucial to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, there will be no one to guide you when you use an online form. Also, you may be unable to create an estate plan that fits your unique needs. An experienced lawyer can enlighten you about your different options and help create a personalized estate plan that best fits your specific situation.

Getting the Experienced Legal Guidance You Need

Having a well-detailed estate plan is crucial to saving your loved ones the cost, time, and stress of estate administration when you're gone. However, the numerous false assumptions out there about estate planning make it even more difficult and confusing for people to navigate. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can evaluate your possible legal options and help navigate crucial decisions when drafting your estate plan.

Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning is dedicated to offering dedicated legal counsel and strong advocacy to clients in the legal matters of estate planning. As your legal counsel, he can enlighten you about the estate planning process in Washington and help figure out the ideal estate plan that best fits you and your family's needs. Also, Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can help draft your documents, update your existing estate plan, and walk you through the entire estate planning process from start to finish.

Preparing for life's uncertainties can never be too early. Contact Northwest Elder Law Center today to schedule a simple consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can offer you the comprehensive legal guidance, assistance, and brilliant advocacy you need to navigate critical decisions in your estate planning. The firm is proud to serve clients across Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, Washington, as well as Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas.