Common Misconceptions About Estate Planning

Despite the continued awareness around planning for life's uncertainties, a lot of people have yet to understand what an estate plan entails and how to make one. According to a 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study by Caring.com, about 34.2% of American adults who don't have a will (69.1%) "don't know how to get one." Moreover, there are a lot of misconceptions and false assumptions surrounding estate planning in Ohio. It is relatively easy for individuals to make costly mistakes when drafting their estate plans without detailed guidance or experienced representation.

At The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams, I have the resources and experience to assist and guide clients through the complexities of estate planning. I'm available to discuss your unique situation and explore your available estate planning options. As an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney, I can offer you the comprehensive legal counsel and brilliant advocacy you need to draft various estate planning documents, including wills, living trusts, special needs planning, powers of attorney, and advanced healthcare directives. My firm proudly serves clients in Columbus, Ohio, and throughout Central Ohio.

Common Misconceptions about Estate Planning

Having a well-detailed estate plan can help mitigate possible disputes and conflicts when settling a decedent's final affairs or distributing assets to inheritors. Estate planning can be a complicated task. However, being able to differentiate between fact and fiction can help make the estate planning process feel clearer and more manageable. Here are some common misconceptions about estate planning and why they are false:

Misconception #1: Estate planning isn't necessary until you retire.

This is a common misconception. Estate planning isn't only for when you are older or about to retire. People of every age can benefit from creating an estate plan that suits their specific needs. Whether you're in your 20s, 40s, or 60s, drafting your estate planning will help you achieve control over your finances, property, and medical affairs. 

Misconception #2: I don't have enough assets to necessitate an estate plan.

One of the reasons many people delay or don't create an estate plan is because they feel that they don't have enough assets. However, estate planning isn't only for the rich and wealthy. Whether you have a large or small estate, creating an estate plan can protect your assets and help your loved ones save time and expenses when you're gone.

Misconception #3: Using an online form is just as effective as hiring an experienced attorney.

Creating sound estate planning documents requires detailed guidance. Unfortunately, there is no guidance when you use an online form. An attorney can enlighten you about your available options and determine the right plan that best fits your unique situation.

Misconception #4: If I don't have a will, then my family will decide who gets what. 

When an Ohio resident dies without a will (dying intestate), the Ohio intestate succession laws – Title 21 of the Ohio Revised Code – will determine how the deceased person's estate or assets will be distributed to surviving loved ones.

Misconception #5: If I have a will, my estate won't have to go through probate.

Having a last will and testament does not mean your estate will avoid probate. A will must be filed with the probate court in Ohio to establish its validity. Regardless, having a will can help speed up the probate process. You can avoid the probate process by creating a trust.

Misconception #6: An estate plan is only to establish who gets what when I die.

In addition to giving you complete control over who inherits your assets, an estate plan can help you achieve the following:

  • Choose a trusted person as your personal representative.
  • Protect your assets, property, investment, and interests.
  • Avoid the lengthy and expensive probate process.
  • Make adequate provisions for your surviving family members.
  • Mitigate family conflicts and disputes over property distribution.
  • Protect your minor children and ensure that they are properly catered for.
  • Help beneficiaries avoid or reduce inheritance, gift, and estate taxes.
  • Protect your assets, businesses, and investments from creditors.

Misconception #7: A will is the only thing that I need in my estate plan.

A will isn't the only document you need in your estate plan. Some other important estate planning documents include trusts, powers of attorney, advanced healthcare directives, beneficiary designations, letters of intent, special needs planning, and guardianship designations.

Misconception #8: I created an estate plan years ago, so there is nothing left to do.

Many estate planning lawyers recommend updating your will and other estate planning documents every three to five years to reflect your current wishes or major life events. This will help ensure that the provisions of the will or estate plan agree with your current wishes.

Getting the Experienced Legal Guidance You Need

Planning for future uncertainties can never be too early. In the event that you become incapacitated, unavailable, or otherwise unable to voice your opinion, your family members can benefit and achieve peace of mind from knowing your true wishes. If you want to understand how the estate planning process works or need assistance when drafting your estate plan, it is important that you speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.

At The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams, I have devoted my career to providing outstanding legal services and knowledgeable guidance to clients in estate planning matters. As your legal counsel, I can educate you about how the estate planning process works, enlighten you about your possible options, and determine the right estate plan that best fits you and your family's needs. Also, I can help draw up your will, living trusts, and other vital documents, update your existing estate plan, and guide you through the entire estate planning process.

Contact my firm, The Law Office of Gregory L. Williams, to schedule a simple consultation today. I can offer you the detailed legal guidance and advocacy you need to navigate key decisions in your estate planning. My firm is proud to serve clients in Columbus, Ohio, and throughout Central Ohio.


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