Myth: Owning all of your assets jointly means that you do not need an estate plan because the survivor will automatically own everything as a matter of law.

Fact: While it is true that the survivor will automatically own 100% of jointly owned assets, this strategy does not protect the assets from creditors and provides no additional protection in case of incapacity.

Myth: We have a prenup, so we do not need an estate plan.

Fact: While a prenuptial agreement may address the distribution of assets, it does not handle other important topics such as incapacity.  Without a Financial Power of Attorney or Advance Health Care Directive, if you are to become incapacitated, your family will need to petition the court to have someone appointed to act on your behalf for your financial matters and medical decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

We just got married and don’t have any children.  Why would we need an estate plan?

Just because you marry someone does not automatically mean that they will inherit from you.  Some assets, such as life insurance policies, have beneficiary designations that must be changed.  Whoever is listed on those will receive the assets on your death.  For those assets that do not have a beneficiary designation, they will be distributed according to the state law of intestacy.  While each state may vary, in most cases, the assets will be distributed between the surviving spouse and other family members. An estate plan puts you in control of the inheritance you leave behind.

We may be moving soon.  It’s okay to wait until we’re settled before having our estate planning done, right?

A move should not be a reason to put off your estate planning.  While we understand that there are a lot of changes occurring, tragedy can occur at any time.  Even if you are changing states, there are still some aspects such as updating your beneficiary designations that can be accomplished and will not be affected by the move.  Additionally, it is a good idea to have a Advance Health Care Directive even if you are not going to be in the state for too much longer.  Life can be very unpredictable and you do not want to get caught needing court intervention should something happen to you or your spouse before the move.