Christene (Chris) Krupa Downs
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Common Misconceptions About Estate Planning

Christene Krupa DownsReviewsout of 7 reviews
Christene “Chris” Krupa Downs
Rated by Super Lawyers

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Estate Planning
Estate planning

If you believe one or more of the common misconceptions about estate planning that we outline in this blog, you may be leaving yourself and your family vulnerable to serious, avoidable risks. Many people think of estate planning as something that only the very wealthy need or believe it mostly constitutes writing a will.

While a Last Will and Testament is essential to a comprehensive estate plan, there is much more to planning for your end-of-life needs and setting protections for your family and your assets.

There are many myths that people believe about estate planning. We’re debunking these to empower you to make the right choices for your family and your future.

MYTH: Estate Planning Is Only For Rich People

It’s true that many wealthy families stay wealthy because of comprehensive estate planning, but it’s not just about wealth. Anyone with high-value assets, minor children, or even preferences for their health care can benefit from a personalized estate plan.

First, you can’t control what happens to your bank accounts, home, or property without an estate plan—Texas probate courts do, and allocate your assets (your estate) according to Texas Estates Codes.

If you prefer certain assets to go to specific individuals or wish to leave assets or property to charity without a will, the courts may not respect your wishes (or even know them!). If you don’t make your wishes known, family members may argue over the disposition of your assets, even going to court.

An estate plan can also:

  • Establish guardianship for minor children
  • Designate someone to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf
  • Establish a Special Needs Trust for a dependent adult or child with special needs
  • Help you preserve assets and maintain Medicaid eligibility

MYTH: Estate Plans are Only for Sick and Old People

A vital part of your estate plan is a Power of Attorney (POA). This designates someone who can make decisions about your health care, finances, or both should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these decisions. While someone who is older and in poor health or who has been diagnosed with a serious disease may have a more pressing need for these documents than someone young and healthy, the truth is that an accident can happen at any time. Without legal protections, these decisions may be made by your legal next of kin instead of your preferred decision-maker.

Furthermore, estate planning also provides a means to take care of your family if the unthinkable happens. You can face the future with greater peace of mind, knowing that even if the worst happens, you’ve named a guardian for your children or ensured that your family will not suffer undue financial hardship with you gone.

MYTH: Estate Planning Means Planning For Death

While it’s true that an estate plan does contain instructions for what happens to your assets after you pass, a comprehensive estate plan also protects you before you pass.

Your medical POA, for example, is used while you’re still alive, as would your financial POA. A financial power of attorney also designates a decision-maker if you must leave the country for a prolonged period (such as being deployed in the military) or otherwise cannot monitor your finances.

Estate plans also include trusts, such as a Medicaid Trust, Special Needs Trust, or a college trust—you can even place your home in a trust. Trusts can protect assets from creditors and taxes or provide income for another person without spending the principal.

Have you realized that you need more than just a will? A local estate planning attorney can explain your options and develop a personalized estate plan to suit your needs.

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