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Clearing the Cobwebs about Estate Planning

October is the month for apples, pumpkins, crisp fall weather and Halloween spells – and National Estate Planning Awareness Week, October 18-24. For the attorneys at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler, the time is always right to dispel some of the common misconceptions about Estate Planning.

According to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC), Estate Planning is an often-overlooked element of financial wellness. It is estimated that over half of Americans – 56% – do not have an up-to-date estate plan. If you fall into that category, it’s possible that one or more myths have been standing in your way. Here are a few:

• I’m too young to need estate planning.
Incapacitation or disability can happen at any age. A comprehensive estate plan gives you the comfort of knowing that your finances, health and family are provided for according to your wishes. Note that if you have children, it’s essential to name who you want as their guardian – the sooner, the better.

• My will is enough.
Though your estate plan will likely include a will, this document will not be enough to cover the complexities of passing your assets on to others. Your beneficiaries may still have to seek a court order to have assets transferred from your name to theirs through a sometimes lengthy court procedure known as probate. Estate planning could help your heirs avoid probate and its associated fees that eat into your estate value.

• Estate planning is only for the wealthy.
Rich or poor, when you die, you leave behind an estate. Even if your estate is small, your surviving family needs to know who you want to inherit any money, possessions or assets you leave behind. To avoid conflicts and legal complications among survivors, it is prudent to plan for how whatever you have is to be distributed.

• I already have an estate plan I made a while ago.
Keep in mind that estate plans should be updated regularly, especially after major life events that affect you and/or your beneficiaries. These events include marriage, divorce, new dependents, acquiring significant assets like a home, boat, car, or the death of a close family member.

• A trust will take care of everything.
Trusts can be an effective part of an estate plan, but they are complex vehicles that need to be carefully set up according to your needs. A qualified attorney can help you create a revocable or irrevocable trust that will best take care of your family when you’re not there to provide.

No one can predict when the unthinkable may happen, so don’t leave your family’s security up to a “trick or treat” approach. SGW attorneys will help you create a comprehensive estate plan to protect your loved ones’ future.