When some Louisiana residents hear the phrase “estate plan,” they may have several thoughts run through their minds. Those thoughts may include, “I don’t need an estate plan. I’m not old.” Perhaps they even think, “I don’t have enough stuff to need an estate plan.” These thoughts and some similar others may have even crossed your mind. However, it is important to understand that estate planning is not just for specific sets of people.
Any adult could benefit from an estate plan because it could address much more than just a person’s assets. A plan could address guardianship for minor children, leave instructions for medical care and, yes, detail how to distribute assets. Unfortunately, far too many people believe the numerous common myths about estate planning.
Have you heard these before?
To know how estate planning could benefit you, it is important to dispel many of those myths that you may have heard or even taken as fact. If the following misconceptions sound familiar to you, it may be worthwhile to gain more information on the benefits of planning:
- Only wealthy people need to create an estate plan.
- The state takes the assets when no will exists.
- If you create a will, you do not have to worry about succession proceedings.
- Estate taxes will not apply to you because your assets fall below the threshold.
- You do not need an attorney to help with estate planning.
Unfortunately, these are only a few examples of misinformation that leave many people missing out on the benefits of estate planning.
What is the truth?
In regard to these examples, some factual information includes the following:
- No matter the number or amount of assets you have, estate planning could benefit you by allowing you to indicate who gets your assets, no matter how few, and how you want other aspects of your life addressed.
- The state will not automatically take over your remaining assets if you do not create a will. Intestate succession laws will determine who of your remaining relatives will receive your property.
- If you want to avoid succession proceedings altogether, you need to take more planning options than just creating a will, such as using trusts and designating beneficiaries for payable-on-death accounts.
- While estate taxes may not apply to your estate now, it is important to remember that the limit for estate tax exemptions fluctuates, meaning your estate could be subject to taxes in the future.
- While you may think you can take a DIY approach to estate planning, not having the right professional help could lead to mistakes that render your plan unusable.
Taking on the endeavor of creating an estate plan can seem daunting, but having a comprehensive and accurate plan can save time, effort and confusion in the future. With the right help and information, you may be able to create a plan that brings you peace of mind.