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5 estate planning myths you may believe

Though living in a world where you can easily access information on any topic can provide many benefits, it can also make it more difficult to discern reliable facts from incorrect notions. Some websites or articles may seem legitimate and claim to offer helpful information, but without the proper research, you could potentially consume inaccurate knowledge. Even ideas that have been considered factual for years may, in fact, be widespread misconceptions.

Because the misinformation often plays a role in the lives of many unsuspecting individuals, you likely want to gain the right information before making important life decisions. When it comes to estate planning, you need this knowledge before making end-of-life decisions. Therefore, you may wish to fact-check your understanding before deciding against planning.

Myth: Only older people estate plan

Though estate planning falls into the category of elder law, you do not have to reach retirement age before creating a plan. In fact, waiting until your golden years could put you and your family at risk of estate-related complications. Adults of any age can benefit from having an estate plan that details long-term care wishes, guardians for children, property distribution and other related topics.

Myth: Only wealthy people need estate plans

Though wealthy individuals may have more assets that need addressing in their plans, your smaller estate also needs a plan. Because an estate plan goes beyond just handling assets, you may wish to use your plan to designate guardians for your kids, arrange health care instructions and designate beneficiaries to appropriate accounts. Additionally, even small estates could face conflict after a loved one's death, so addressing even minimal assets could prevent unnecessary issues.

Myth: My spouse will inherit everything anyway

Though state law typically does put your spouse at the top of the list of heirs, extenuating circumstances could affect that inheritance. For instance, you could get divorced, or you and your spouse could die at the same time. You may also have assets that you want to go directly to your kids or other individuals. In such cases, having direct instructions could make the situation easier.

Myth: My family will know what to do

Though you may want to trust that your family will handle your care or estate as you would want, that task can prove difficult if your loved ones did not know your wishes. Additionally, after your passing, your family will likely deal with considerable grief, and having to make difficult decisions during that time could increase their burden. Your estate plan can help them handle the estate in the manner you desire.

Myth: I do not need an attorney

Though you have options for DIY estate planning, those forms typically offer only generic assistance. If you have specific issues you want your plan to address or want to ensure that you have the correct information, you may wish to speak with an experienced Illinois attorney.

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Leonard F. Berg, Attorney at Law