Let's face it. Estate planning is rarely a favorite topic of discussion. It deals with death and money, and most people would rather wait until later. This attitude leads to some common misconceptions and myths when it comes to planning for the future, including after you pass away.
Only rich people need estate planning.
Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. This misconception likely stems from a misunderstanding of what estate planning covers. It's not all about property, money and inheritances. An estate plan also deals with preparing for life-altering events, like divorce and disability. In a nutshell, an estate plan dictates how you want your money and property distributed after you die, helps protect your assets in the event of divorce, and spells out what you want done if you become incapacitated and are unable to voice your wishes.
Single people don't have any need for estate planning.
Sure a married couple with kids has more at stake than a single man or woman who has not yet started a family. But this doesn't completely eliminate the need for an estate plan. Do you want all your worldly goods to go to the state? This is a real possibility if you don't prepare a will and have no close relatives that can be easily located. Do you have any pets, or maybe a "pet" charity? Creating a last will and testament allows you to direct how you want your property and money distributed when you pass, rather than some soulless government entity. And as mentioned in the point above, you can also provide instructions for your wishes in the event of a disabling medical event.
I'm not old enough to worry about estate planning.
This is another common misconception that many people have. Most believe there will always be time to deal with advanced directives, wills, and estate plans later. The cold, hard facts do not necessarily back this up. If tragedy strikes, you may leave your wife, children or even your parents with a confusing mess while they're tying to cope with their loss. A well-designed estate plan protects your assets and provides for an orderly transfer of property and funds should you meet an untimely demise. It's an act of caring and love that helps your family when they most need it.
All I need is a will and no lawyer.
Though it may be true that some people have so little that a do-it-yourself will may indeed be sufficient, this is hardly the norm. As we have discussed in the previous scenarios, estate planning is something that most people need - young, old, single, married, poor and wealthy. An estate plan serves many functions and offers the most protection when tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. This is best accomplished with the services of a skilled California estate planning attorney who understands the laws and is experienced in protecting client assets and planning for potential life changing circumstances.