Myths, by definition, are widely held beliefs or ideas that are actually false. There are many myths about estate planning, and these false beliefs are often enough to stop numerous New Jersey residents from getting their estate plans prepared. This week, this column will discuss estate planning myths versus reality in the hopes of encouraging people to take the time to get their estate planning done.
Myth number one: estate planning will cause one to die sooner. No one knows exactly when they are going to die. Planning for it does not mean it will happen sooner. In fact, taking the time to put together an estate plan has actually shown to help people live longer because they have peace of mind knowing their assets and loved ones are protected.
Myth number two: the public can access estate plans. Wanting the contents of one’s estate plan to remain private is an understandable concern. These documents do not have to be and are not automatically made available to the public.
Myth number three: once made, an estate plan cannot be modified. Change is inevitable. People gain and lose assets, some get married, some have kids, some get divorced, some simply have a change of heart, so adjusting one’s estate plan becomes necessary, and it can be done. It is recommended that one review estate planning documents every few years to make sure they are up-to-date and make any modifications if they are not.
Myth number four: beneficiaries can change the estate plan. Unless there is a reason to question the validity of an estate plan, beneficiaries have to accept the plan as it is. Wills and trusts are usually meticulously prepared so that they are legal and binding.
New Jersey residents cannot believe all the wild and crazy things they may hear estate planning. It is a straightforward process, and it is necessary if one wants to have a say in how things are handled after one’s death. Those who wish to learn more about estate planning, its benefits and how it works can turn to an experienced attorney to get accurate information.