Common Myths About Estate Planning
Statistics reported by the American Association of Retired People (AARP) in 2017 estimate that as many as 6 in 10 adults in the United States do not have any kind of estate planning in place. In 2021, after dealing with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has almost certainly risen – but too many myths still persist about estate planning and the outcome that it can have on your day-to-day life, and too many people have not made any kind of disposition of their assets after their passing. It is crucial to understand what the actual state of the relevant law is before doing any kind of planning.
Estate Planning Can Benefit Anyone
Perhaps the most common type of myth is when a person thinks that estate planning is unnecessary for them because of their age, lack of assets, or another factor. Estate planning is seen as something that only old rich people need, but in reality, almost everyone can benefit from proper estate planning, whether one is young or old, has children or not, or has no family at all. One never knows what could happen any day – especially, tragically, while a global pandemic is still happening – and in addition, estate planning is about so much more than asset division.
If nothing else, a proper estate plan will ensure that your personal property – your possessions, your papers and pictures, and other items of sentimental value – goes to the right person. If a person dies in Florida without any kind of estate plan in place, their property will descend according to the state’s intestate succession law – that is, without any reference as to what you, the decedent, might have wanted. In addition, this disinherits any former spouses or children from a previous marriage; only current family is deemed a part of the succession.
A Simple Will May Not Be Sufficient
Another common type of estate planning myth is that all one needs is a simple will to leave everything to the person you choose. While this might be true for some people, it is simply not true for everyone; in most cases, a will is not quite enough to dispose of all one’s assets, and leaving everything to one person is not often possible. For example, Florida law requires that the spouse of a deceased person be granted what is known as the elective share (unless they explicitly waive the right), which adds up to roughly 30 percent of the estate.
In addition, other documents may be required in your case – for example, a revocable trust, a healthcare surrogate designation, and other items that ensure your wishes are respected at every point in the process. Some people start to get “gun-shy” upon hearing that so many documents might be necessary, thinking that their estate distribution will become too complicated, but in reality, having that many documents will smooth out the future process of asset distribution. Better to plan for the future than to trust in fate.
Call A Naples Estate Planning Attorney
If you have questions, concerns or just want to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss your personal legal issues in a confidential setting, contact James R. Nici, the Managing Partner of Nici Law Firm, a Naples estate planning attorney with almost 30 years of legal experience. This may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at 239-449-6150, to schedule your complimentary consultation.