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Dispelling Estate Planning Misconceptions

Law Office of Robert L. Firth March 2, 2022

The concept of estate planning is fairly straightforward—it involves the planning of your future and how your financial and physical assets will be dispersed to your loved ones after you’re gone. While the general concept is straightforward, many people aren’t quite clear on what estate planning specifically entails. This confusion leads to a number of stubborn misconceptions about the process.

The Law Office of Robert L. Firth believes in seeking solutions to your estate planning needs, including clearing up these common estate planning misconceptions. From our Cathedral City office, we assist families and individuals in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, and throughout the Coachella Valley with all manner of estate planning services. Through sound guidance tailored to your needs, our team strives to ensure that your wishes are executed properly as you create a plan for your future.

Common Estate Planning Misconceptions

My estate is too small to need any planning

It is true that if you have a small estate, you may not need a complicated will or trust. Sill, even if you have only a few assets, your estate plan can direct where you want those assets to go. Additionally, estate planning is crucial, especially if you have children. A will directs where (and to whom) you want your assets to go. Also, there are two important titles to give in order to be protected: powers of attorney and health care proxies. If you ever find yourself unable to make your own decisions (for whatever reason), powers of attorney make financials for you, and health care proxies make medical decisions for you. Finding someone you trust is important before it’s too late.

A will is all I need

This is partially true, under certain conditions. After passing away, a will legally states who will be your executor (a person who will implement your wishes) and where your property will go. This applies to only probate property, however, which excludes but is not limited to:  

  • Jointly-owned property

  • Property in trust

  • Life insurance proceeds

  • Property with a named beneficiary (IRAs or 401(k) plans, etc.)

It’s cheaper to do it myself

In this day and age, there are numerous online services that offer a do-it-yourself template for making a will. With all the information out there, it’s tempting to write one on a random template and say it’s good – unfortunately, this may be the wrong decision. Without legal guidance, this may cause issues in the long run. Moreover, a DIY estate planning program isn’t comprehensive or tailored to your specific circumstances. If you use one of those programs, you may be looking over those specific situations; with support from a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, you can feel confident that your needs are met and assets set out appropriately.

I don’t need to think about my will once it’s written

In life, nothing is certain and change is constant, so it’s important that you review it after major changes, every so often, or even once a year. Rechecking it can help you make sure there are no mistakes, and you can have peace of mind that your wishes will be met. For sure, though, you should review it after major changes, some of which include: 

  • Getting married or divorced

  • Having children

  • Medical issues

  • Job changes

  • Experiencing an increase or decrease in assets

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney in Cathedral City

Since 1975, the Law Office of Robert L. Firth has been helping clients create plans for the future of their assets, their medical care, and the care of their loved ones. If you want to take the next step in securing your future, set up a free initial consultation with us today at our office in Cathedral City, California. Whether you are helping your parents or loved ones prepare wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, or advanced health care directives—or you’re in your golden years and want to make sure that your estate is distributed properly—our experienced team can guide you in the right direction.