Fact-Checking your Estate Planning Knowledge
There are various misconceptions about some of the tools used in estate planning. While this list is not exhaustive, it is intended to clear up some of those fallacies and prompt you to evaluate your current estate planning devices. Some of the most common misconceptions about estate planning include:
Using a will allows you to avoid probate. A will is actually a tool for the probate system and acts as instructions for the court.
A will is private and so are your assets. Probate court is a public legal proceeding and everything in your estate that passes through it will become public record. The probate court is also required to notify all known creditors and allow them the opportunity to file claims against the estate.
A Power of Attorney document is durable after death. The authority a Power of Attorney possessed, whether it be for finances or health care, are lost upon the death of the person they represented. All remaining decision making is left to the designated personal representative named in either a will or a trustee named under a trust.
You lose control of assets held in a trust. You can maintain control over assets in a Revocable or Living Trust during your lifetime by naming yourself as the Trustee. Only upon your death or incapacity will your successor trustee assume control of the assets. (Note that they must do so in accordance with the provisions of the trust.)
Working with an experienced estate planning Attorney will allow you to use these tools effectively, and can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Contact us today at Gage-Michaels Law Firm to learn more or to schedule a consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog post is made available for educational purposes only. It should not be relied upon for legal or tax advice and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation with a qualified attorney.