Making false estate planning and elder law assumptions based on incomplete or inaccurate information can yield significant negative consequences. In an effort to help our readers steer clear of some future difficulties we would like to take a look at the top three false estate planning assumptions.
False Assumption #1: I don’t need an estate plan because I am not rich.
This is a very common notion, but it is completely false.
It’s rather difficult to make it through life without earning any money, and a very high percentage of Americans own homes and have some savings. According to the Investment Company Institute, in 2011 51 million workers in the United States were active participants in 401(k) retirement savings plans.
If you are a childless orphan with no extended family or friends and you are penniless and living in a cave in the forest perhaps you don’t need an estate plan. However, if you’re like most ordinary Americans you do indeed have something to leave behind to your loved ones.
False Assumption #2: I don’t need to plan for possible incapacity because it is very unlikely that I will ever become unable to make my own sound decisions.
Alzheimer’s disease alone makes incapacity planning a must, and Alzheimer’s is not the only cause of incapacity. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that around 45% of people who are 85 years old and older suffer from the disease. This is the fastest-growing age group that we have here in the United States.
False Assumption #3: I can plan my own estate using forms that I download off the Internet.
While you can download forms off the Internet and fill in the blanks, should you do so? If an estate planning attorney tells you that this is probably not a good idea you may question his or her motives.
However, last year the trusted and objective magazine Consumer Reports probed DIY estate planning with the assistance of three prominent legal professors. They stated that you’re far better off working with a licensed attorney if you want to make sure that your estate plan is properly instructed.