Despite understanding the importance of having an estate plan, over half of all Americans do not have one. At least one reason for this phenomenon is the simple fact that estate planning can seem rather mysterious and confusing to the average person. Both the tools and concepts used in estate planning are things most people have never come across before and, therefore, know nothing about. To help take some of the mystery out of creating an estate plan, the Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC answer some common estate planning questions.
I Don’t Really Need a Plan Yet, Do I?
Although most people acknowledge the need for an estate plan – eventually – those same people frequently operate under the belief that they don’t need a plan yet. The rationale behind this belief is that you don’t need an estate plan until you have amassed a valuable estate and/or until you have a family. The truth, however, is that every adult can benefit from an estate plan. True, the more assets you have the more important having an estate plan becomes; however, you undoubtedly want to be the one to decide what happens to the assets you do have in the event of your death. Likewise, while starting a family gives you an additional incentive to have an estate plan in place, it is by no means a prerequisite for the need for a plan.
What Should Be in My Plan?
Estate planning is a highly personal endeavor. Just as no two people are exactly the same, no two estate plans are exactly the same. As such, there are no basic requirements for an estate plan. There are, however, some common components found in most plans, such as:
- Last Will and Testament
- Advanced directives (Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney)
- Incapacity planning
- Funeral and burial plan
- Retirement planning
- Medicaid planning
How Often Should I Revise My Plan?
Creating an estate plan is important; however, failing to review and revise that plan can be worse than not having a plan in the first place. There are no hard and fast rules for how often a routine review should take place. Most estate planning attorneys advise you to review your plan every three to five years during your working years and then every five to seven years thereafter. In addition, though, certain life events call for an immediate revision of your plan, such as a divorce, death, move to another state, or major change in assets.
Should I Tell My Family What’s in My Plan?
This is a personal decision that only you can make; however, there are good reasons to do so. If you anticipate that heirs or beneficiaries will be surprised and/or upset with the terms of your plan, it is better to explain ahead of time what they should expect if you wish to limit the likelihood of challenges to your Will.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer to Create a Will?
It is tempting in today’s electronic age to rely on forms found on the internet when it comes time to create your Last Will and Testament. Doing so, however, greatly increases the odds of litigation when it comes time to probate your estate. Ultimately, the time and money you may save by going the DIY route will likely end up costing your loved ones considerably more time and money down the road. In addition, using a DIY form to create your Will can result in unintended consequences given the fact that an attorney will not be part of the creation of the document. The bottom line is that creating your Will is not the time to try and cut corners.
Contact Essex Junction Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please attend one of our upcoming FREE webinars. If you have questions or concerns about estate planning, contact the experienced Essex Junction estate planning attorneys at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC by calling 802-879-7133 to schedule your appointment today.