Estate Planning Attorney

Myth Busting Estate Planning Misconceptions
by Madison J. Dressman , Klenda Austerman Estate Planning Attorney

Our modern world is home to many wonders beyond our wildest dreams. Long gone are the days of heading to a library or encyclopedia to find information as modern technology puts the answers at our fingertips with a simple search engine tool. Although the rise in technology brings many marvelous advancements, it makes discerning fact from fiction more difficult. To ensure accuracy and reliability of internet information, it all must be highly scrutinized. Estate planning is no different. Read on to hear an estate planning lawyer bust the top estate planning myths and provides clarification on the key misconceptions surrounding estate planning.

If I die without a will the state will inherit my assets.

A common myth that I grew up hearing is the idea that the state or local government will inherit your assets if you pass without an estate plan. Although it is unclear how this rumor began, it is ultimately untrue. In Kansas, if someone passes away without a plan in place, their estate will pass through the probate court and be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. Intestate statutes are the state governments attempt to guess what an average citizen would want to happen to their assets after they pass. However, each state’s intestacy laws are drafted differently so it is important to consult with an estate planning lawyer to understand your state’s statutes and how that relates to your specific family situation.

I am young. I don’t need an estate plan.

As a young adult, it is common to believe you are invincible. It can be easy to lose sight of your own mortality with your whole life before the horizon. Whether you are just starting a family, beginning your career, or getting married, an estate plan can help protect you and the ones you love from unforeseen or unpredictable circumstances. For example, an estate planning lawyer can assist in ensuring that your family will have enough funds to pay the mortgage if you are ever injured. Or that your children can receive funds for their education in the event of an untimely passing.

I shouldn’t tell anyone about my estate plan.

Having conversations about death can be uncomfortable. While the thought of death itself can be morbid, family dynamics can further complicate this process by leaving the testator in a position where they have to manage their family’s expectations on what they believe the estate plan should look like. For example, you may be fearful that a certain family member expects to inherit more funds than you are willing to devise. Or perhaps two family members would like the responsibility to make decisions regarding your health care. Having early discussions with family members regarding your estate plan can help minimize potential disappointment or anger by setting realistic expectations and keeping your whole family on the same page regarding your wishes. Fostering an environment of support and cooperation can unite a family though troubling times, especially after the loss of a loved one.

My estate plan only matters once I die.

Some believe that an estate plan only involves discussions resolving the distribution of assets after death. While this is a very important component of an estate plan, most attorneys take things a step further by helping you form a life plan in case of emergency or incapacity while alive. For example, a power of attorney can help assist you with financial decisions if you are ever unable to manage them yourself. A health care power of attorney can be appointed to make health care decisions for you if you are ever in a situation where you are incapacitated. If you create a trust, a successor or co-trustee could also help manage your estate if you are unable to manage on your own.

Our modern age of technological advancements has fostered a golden age of knowledge for our society. Although there are many positive aspects to having access to a wealth of knowledge, it also requires one to have a keen eye. Klenda Austerman can help you sort through the fact and fiction of estate planning, answer your questions and address your concerns to get you the peace of mind you need for your family.