We are in the business of helping people prepare and plan for the inevitable, so every year we write an article advising our clients about what not to do when it comes to death and disability planning. The mistakes we have seen people make throughout the past 30 years we have been in practice have caused a lot heartache, stress, and money for our clients to correct.
The title of this article is a common misconception that people have about avoiding probate. A person will assume that just because he has been designated as his parent's Agent in his parent's Power of Attorney (POA) that he will have access to his parent's bank account after the parent dies. The person will incorrectly assume that having his name listed on his parent's account will be enough to avoid probate.
A recent survey of more than 2,000 people found that 64% of the people surveyed indicated that they don't have wills, according to an article published online by AARP. Many people are superstitious about planning for death. People fear that once they get the ball rolling on estate planning, something bad will happen. Time after time, however, our clients tell us that they experience such a sense of relief after completing their estate planning. The peace of mind far outweighs the fear involved in beginning the estate planning process.
A common misconception is that a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney that is prepared in one state will have the same effectiveness and powers in a different state. This is simply not true. It is for that reason why we advise clients who are moving to or from another state to have their estate planning documents reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning in the state where legal residence will occur.
Have you heard the saying that planning for death is about one notch above getting a colonoscopy on a person's to do list?
Most people who call our office for estate planning advice assume that getting a Will is the most important activity when doing estate planning. However, based on over 30 years of practice in this specific area of law, we know that the prior assumption is not the always the case.
If a Will has been drafted and executed properly by a qualified estate planning attorney, then the chances of heirs having an estate battle over an inheritance is minimized. However, even when a Will has been prepared and executed properly, sometimes problems will happen anyway after a person's death.