Estate planning lawyers in Savannah sometimes feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle. We have seen first-hand just how important a good estate plan is, and we certainly want others to understand why it’s imperative. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths that estate planning lawyers encounter on a regular basis. Knowing which are true and which are false can save you a lot of difficulty.
Estate Planning Myth #1: I don’t have much, so I don’t need an estate plan.
This is a pretty common myth when it comes to estate planning. Many people assume that if they don’t have large estates, then there’s no need to create a plan. What they don’t realize is that EVERY estate must go through a legal process, and not having an estate plan will drag this out. Not only will it take longer for assets to be distributed, but you won’t have a say in where they go. Another big problem is that the probate process (closing your estate with the courts after your death) can be quite expensive, so if you haven’t made a plan in advance, the legal fees and taxes can wipe out what little you had to leave behind in the first place.
Estate Planning Myth #2: My family knows what my wishes are.
Perhaps your family has an idea of what you’d like to see done with your estate. According to Georgia law, however, that’s probably not enough. Family members can’t just step in and say, “Grandma wanted Little Johnny to have that rug.” Instead, the courts are going to decide for you how things get distributed. This is especially unsettling in cases where guardianship of a child is involved. Instead of custody being awarded to the person “everyone knows” you’ve chosen, the courts will have to go with legal precedent.
Estate Planning Myth #3: Trust funds are how rich people take care of their children.
There are so many different kinds of trusts, and the “trust fund” that funds rich kids’ exploits are only one type. Trusts are actually really useful tools that help avoid taxes on your estate, give you say over what happens to your money later (not just after you die, by the way), and can protect your assets. Many people who would have never even considered the possibility of a trust are shocked when their Savannah estate planning lawyers explain to them just how beneficial they can be.
Estate Planning Myth #4: I don’t need a lawyer because I can do my estate planning myself.
Because of the Internet and other advances, individuals now have access to all kinds of estate planning tools they never did in the past. What many people don’t consider, though, is that these “kits” are a one-size-fits-all approach, which generally translates to “one-size-fits-none!” Every situation is different and nuanced, and in order to ensure you’re meeting the laws of Georgia, as well as making the best decisions to protect your assets, it takes human interaction with a professional who knows what he or she is doing.