Probate, Wills, and Trusts: Common Misconceptions about Estate Planning

Sorting out affairs when it comes to end of life can seem rather elusive to most. It can feel like a daunting process to establish a plan of how your assets will be dispersed to loved ones, especially if you have gone through a divorce. Determining the details of your estate plan should be left to a qualified attorney that can help you decipher your final wishes. The following outlines the most common misconceptions when it comes to probate, wills and trusts.

  • Your Spouse Will Inherit All of Your Assets
    • Often a spouse or couple will leave all of their assets to their descendants.
    • If one spouse passes, the living spouse can change their estate plan despite the original plan made when their partner was alive.
    • Elective share entitles the surviving spouse to ⅓ of the estate
    • The amount that can be collected by spouse is contingent upon how long they were married.
  • There are Tax Exemptions When a Trust is Established
    • Although this is considered largely untrue, you may be able to create a plan that significantly lowers the amount of taxes that must be paid, with the help of a seasoned attorney.
  • Your Estate Will Be in Probate for a Long Time
    • A probate attorney may be able to help you completely stay out of probate court.
    • Probate can take a few months to a year- this allows for any creditors to be able to file their claims.
    • It is rare for probate to take any longer than a year but can take longer if there are family members who are disputing the will, the estate is of significant size or the estate produces income.
    • Once payment for debts have been dispersed, the details of the will can be carried out.
  • Everything Goes to the State
    • Often, those who stand to inherit assets are fearful that if there is no will in place that everything will go to the state.
    • The state may take everything if you don’t have any descendants.
    • While the state may become involved, it is to help disperse the assets to beneficiaries appropriately. 
  • Estate Planning is Only for the Privileged
    • Estate planning is not just something that the wealthy are entitled to.
    • There is much to consider even for the average person when it comes to creating their will.
    • You will want to appoint someone to take care of your children if you were to pass away.
    • You will want to have a plan in place should you unable to make decisions for yourself. Often estate plans will include power of attorney for both medical and financial decisions.

Retaining an attorney who is familiar with wills, trusts and estate planning, can ensure that you have the accurate information to put a plan in place that will work for you. An experienced attorney such as the estate planning attorney Scottsdale AZ who specializes in estate planning can help to draw up the appropriate documents that will make it easier for your loved ones to manage your estate following your death.

Thanks to authors at Hildebrand Law for their insight into Estate Planning.