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Dispelling estate planning myths

Despite the avalanche of information available to us all online, we can regardless find myths in many aspects of modern life. One example of an area where myths persist is in estate planning.

A recent news article on the subject tackled several of the false (though perhaps common) beliefs about estate planning.

At the top of the list is the myth that if you have a will, your heirs will be able to avoid the Florida probate process. As the estate planning attorney and author of the article states quite clearly, “A will actually guarantees probate!” 

Here’s why: Your will is little more than a set of instructions to the probate court about how you want your assets distributed after you pass away. (If you want your heirs to avoid probate, there are a number of powerful estate planning tools available.)

Another myth: “I can handle a decedent’s estate because I am the power of attorney.”

The power of attorney document applies only while the person is alive. After they pass, the power of attorney (and your authority) ends. “A power of attorney dies with the person,” the attorney-author notes.

Another myth is that a revocable trust protects assets from the costs of nursing home care. However, an irrevocable trust can offer some of those protections, but you should speak with an estate planning lawyer to see if this planning tool is right for you and your family.

A final myth: “a trust or will created online is just as good as one created with my estate planning attorney.” The reality is that creating estate planning documents from online templates can do your family more harm than good. An attorney who understands not only the tools available, but your life situation, is far better positioned to tailor an estate plan to your particular needs.

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