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Estate planning myths

Colorado residents should consider the benefits of having even the most basic estate planning documents in place to ensure that their wishes are adhered to when they die, even if getting the right documents to arrange their health, home and financial affairs can be confusing and intimidating. When creating an estate plan, it can be helpful to be aware of common misconceptions about estate planning.

One common myth about estate planning is that a will is enough to ensure how assets are to be distributed. While a will can be used to dictate how assets should be distributed, it is only effective for assets that are solely in the decedent's name. A will may have no controlling power over joint financial accounts or accounts that have designated beneficiaries.

Another prevalent misconception about estate planning is that it pertains only to the handling of assets. In reality, individuals should also have the proper legal documents in place to address concerns about their state of mind and health. A living will can be used to specify the type of medical treatment individuals want if certain situations should arise. A durable power of attorney for healthcare, or a healthcare proxy, can be used to give certain individuals the authority to make important medical decisions on behalf of someone else who has become incapacitated.

Many people also believe that estate planning can be postponed until they are older. However, having an estate plan in place as soon as possible can be helpful for surviving family members if the unexpected occurs.

An estate planning attorney may assist clients with determining which types of legal documents, such as wills and powers of attorney, should be included in their estate plans. Assistance may be provided for drafting wills and the provisions of trusts.

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