Many people believe that if they have a will, their estate planning is complete, but there is much more to a solid estate plan. A good plan should be designed to avoid probate, save on estate taxes, protect assets if you need to move into a nursing home, and appoint someone to act for you if you become disabled.
Do you have a will? A durable power of attorney? A health care proxy? If not, why not? Failure to create an estate plan risks causing discord in your family for generations to come.
A recent court case involving a power of attorney demonstrates the problem with using online estate planning forms instead of hiring an attorney who can make sure your documents are tailored to your needs.
Don’t assume your estate will automatically go to your spouse when you die. If you don’t have an estate plan, your spouse may have to share your estate with other family members. If you die without an estate plan, the state legislature has decided where your assets go.
There are lots of misconceptions about estate planning, and any one of them can result in costly mistakes. Understanding who needs an estate plan and what it should cover is key to creating a plan that is right for you.