Estate planning may be one of the most misunderstood areas of law, especially when it comes to trusts. Unfortunately, these misunderstandings can be very costly and can result in years of conflict, potentially tearing families apart. Here are five of the most common myths relating to trusts and estate planning. Have you fallen for any of them?
Myth No. 1: Only the wealthy need a trust. Many people think that they don’t need a trust if they aren’t wealthy, but this isn’t true. A trust can benefit any person who has property that they don’t want to go through a very public and expensive probate process.
Myth No. 2: All you need to do is create a trust and everything will be taken care of. Some people create a trust and then forget the most important step, funding it with assets. Think of the trust as just the structure that is created to keep your assets in.
Myth No. 3: You only need to think about your estate plan once. Since life is full of changes, it’s likely that you will have to revisit your estate plan numerous times. For example, do you still want a couple you designated to be your children’s guardians if they have gone through divorce?
Myth No. 4: A do-it-yourself will or trust will do the trick. These days, you can find DIY instructions for just about anything on the Internet, including wills and trusts. However, if you fail to consult an experienced estate planning lawyer you can be sure that you left something out of your plan, and it could be very costly.
Myth No. 5: You should pick a family member to be your trustee. It’s often wise to choose a corporate trustee or another third party instead of a family member as a trustee because it could prevent family conflict from arising. Your loved ones might thank you later.
Source: CNBC, “Trust bust: Steer clear of the 8 biggest estate-planning mistakes,” Barry Glassman, Oct. 22, 2014