Common Estate Planning Myths

At Bebout, Potere, Cox & Bennion, P.C., we understand that the only way to make smart and informed decisions about an estate plan is to ask the right questions and get answers from someone who fully understands the law, the legal process and how to do things right the first time around. Serving Oakland County and communities throughout southeast Michigan, Our attorneys use their knowledge and experience to do just that, even dispelling estate planning myths that can cause people to hesitate to start their estate plan.

Here is a list of some of the more common myths we hear:

You have to be a retiree in order to start thinking about your estate plan.

False. You can draft an estate plan at any age, though it's best to start the process when you start accruing substantive assets for yourself and would like to direct to whom they go.

You have to have a will in order for your family to get your estate.

False. If you die without a will, your property and assets pass into what is called intestate succession. This is a process whereby the state decides which family members will receive the property and in what amount.

The contents of a living trust are exempt from estate taxes.

False. You will still have to pay estate taxes, even if you have a living trust. Only estates worth less than $5,450,000 for single individuals are exempt from federal death taxes. For a married couple the exemption is currently $10,900,000. The exemptions are adjusted annually for inflation. The type of living trust you create, however, can affect how much you pay in estate taxes.

Probate isn't necessary if the decedent had a will.

False. Probate may be necessary in certain cases, even if a person died with a will. In situations where a will is contested or if a person dies with property in their own name, then probate proceedings may be necessary.

You only need an estate plan if you're wealthy.

False. You should have an estate plan in place regardless of the size of your wealth. The state of Michigan allows individuals to create small estate plans that can help ease the legal burdens handled by loved ones after someone passes away.

Regular maintenance on a will isn't necessary.

False. Unless your estate never changes and you go through no major life events such as the death of a beneficiary or marriage – which is highly unlikely in most cases – then you should consider speaking with an estate planning lawyer about making updates to your will.

Contact Us For Further Assistance

If you have questions about your estate plan or one belonging to a loved one, we encourage you to contact us online or call our office near Rochester Hills at 248-805-1959. We make ourselves available to answer all your questions and concerns, making sure you understand what needs to be done and how to do it. Contact us now to set up a free 30-minute consultation.