There are many mistaken beliefs by the populace when it comes to wills, trusts and probate. I hear some of them when I meet with clients. But more often I hear these particular myths when speaking with people who don’t know what I do for a living. So here are a few of the gems I hear.
I have a Will. That’s all I need.
Usually this statement is made by someone who got their will online, which creates its own problems. But if we assume that it is a valid will in Texas, it should cover the basics when the person dies. But many people become incapacitated and unable to care for themselves for a few weeks to many years before they die. A complete estate planning package should include financial and medical powers of attorney and a living will that gives your loved ones authority to act and direction in the event of catastrophe.
We made our wills when we got married. It’s still effective, right?
Well, how long ago did you get married? Have you had children? Are your executor and trustee still the people you wish to serve in that capacity? Have estate laws changed since then? These are just a few of the things that can change over time. Everyone with a will should at least review it on their own to be sure it still makes sense to them. But meeting with your estate planning attorney about any law changes or changes in your family situation is also a great idea.
I’m too young to start thinking about a Will.
Life is unpredictable and uncertain. Anyone of us could be hit by a car or suffer a debilitating or fatal health issue at any time. Take some time to create a Will and other important estate planning documents in order to ease the burden on your family.
I don’t need a lawyer to create a Will.
While this is technically true, it is dangerous. There are so many pitfalls in prepareing a will without consulting an attorney. And those pitfalls are likely to reveal themselves only after you have died. At that point it may be impossible or very difficult and expensive to remedy the error or omission. That is why I don’t recommend trying to prepare your estate planning documents on your own. There are many variables and unique situations that play into an individual’s estate plan, and a generic document may not cover those.
My family knows my wishes and how to distribute my things.
Based on my years of experience in this field I highly doubt this is true in the majority of cases. I find it more likely that each of your family members has a different view on what to do with your belongings. Avoid family feuds by designating where your money and sentimental things will go when you pass away.