Myths and misconceptions abound in estate planning


It’s important to weed out myths and misconceptions about estate planning.

For some people, the area of estate planning is a mystery. They may not understand why estate planning is necessary or how it applies to them. This feeling is due in no small part to the myriad myths and misconceptions floating around about the concept of estate planning. By clearing up a few of these – and giving people the truth behind those myths – hopefully more people will realize how important it is that everyone have a comprehensive estate plan.

Myth: I’m not rich, so I don’t need an estate plan.

Truth: Everyone – even those with modest estates can benefit from an estate plan. Yes, estate planning is particularly helpful for the very affluent, but it can be vital for the less-wealthy as well. This is because estate planning not only deals with the assets you leave behind, but also with providing for your own care. For example, your estate plan can include a power of attorney and healthcare proxy that grants a person you trust the ability to make decisions on your behalf about financial matters and healthcare.

Furthermore, your estate plan can also dictate your wishes regarding such matters as funeral services and how you’d like your remains handled. Having something in writing can stave off infighting amongst your loved ones should you have perhaps changed your mind over the years.

Of course, an estate plan is also vital to leave specific bequests (like your grandmother’s engagement ring or your father’s war medals) to particular family members or funds for your favorite charitable organization.

Myth: I have a will drafted years ago, so I’m all set.

Truth: Our lives are in a state of constant flux; our situation changes from day to day and from year to year. While having even an old will is better than not having anything at all, the simple fact is that failing to update your estate plan periodically might result in problems after you’re gone.

Were you married when that will was drafted? Did you have children? Have any of the people to whom you made bequests in the will passed away or become incapacitated since then? Do you now have any medical conditions that might require long-term care? All of these things need to be considered – and accounted for – in your estate plan, so it is important not only that your documents be well-drafted initially, but that they also remain current.

Myth: Estate planning is too expensive.

Truth: Making an investment in your future through the process of estate planning may seem costly to you, but consider this: it is much more cost-effective to spend the money on drafting a solid, enforceable will or trust, power of attorney and health care directive now than to have your heirs expend many times that amount on probate litigation, a will contest or out-of-pocket funding for long-term care.

Hopefully, after reading this, you have a better sense of the real purposes of estate planning and how it is important for you regardless of your financial situation. To learn more – and to get started on your own estate plan – contact Cushing & Dolan, Attorneys at Law today. The firm has offices around Massachusetts (in Boston, Waltham, Hyannis, Westborough, Woburn, Braintree and Cranston) for your convenience.