3 Estate Planning Myths And Why You Need An Estate Plan In Place

The importance of estate planning can often be underestimated, especially by young families and older couples.  “There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding estate planning,” shares Cassandra Dorn, Financial Consultant with Provident.  “Here are a few that I frequently hear from clients:

Myth #1:  Being married, I’m automatically my spouse’s Power of Attorney in the event they become incapacitated.  Part of this misunderstanding has to do with Wisconsin being a community property state.  It can give couples the idea that they are automatically the default person when it comes to their spouse’s health and financial decisions should they develop a life threatening condition or get in an accident.  “That’s absolutely not the case,” refutes Cassandra.  “If something happens to your spouse and they’re unable to make decisions regarding their healthcare and finances, you either need to have a plan in place that names you the Power of Attorney or you’ll need to go to court where the judge will hopefully appoint you as their guardian, which they may or may not do – you just don’t know.  They may appoint your mother-in-law or father-in-law instead.” 

Myth #2:  You only need to create an estate plan once.  “While there’s a good chance that a decade or more could pass before you need to revisit your estate plan, the rule of thumb is that anytime there’s a life event you’ll want to review your plan and make any necessary changes,” notes Cassandra.  “Life events such as getting divorced or remarried, a death in the family, you have kids, move out of state, etc.  These are opportunities to make sure everything is updated and accurate, review any changes to estate tax laws and also serve as a reminder to review the beneficiaries on your financial forms.”

Myth #3:  Estate planning is just for the wealthy.  “Estate planning is for everyone,” shares Cassandra.  “Whether you are upper class, middle class, single, married, have a family or not; having an estate plan in place makes it easier for those surviving you to navigate through what’s undoubtedly an already difficult time.  Think of it this way, you pay for home and car insurance with the hopes you’ll never have to use it, why not have measures in place that will protect your loved ones and yourself if something should happen?”

“Personally, I wanted a direct say in what would happen with my children’s care should something happen to my husband and me,” says Cassandra.  “If we didn’t have appointed guardians for their healthcare and financial decisions, the courts would decide.  Given that my husband and I have a thorough understanding of our family dynamics and how certain changes might affect our children, it doesn’t make sense to leave decisions to a judge who has never met them.  I understand people don’t like to think about these situations, but once you meet with an attorney and get your estate plan done, you typically don’t have to do it again for a long time.”

“At the end of the day, I think the biggest sentiment that resonates with clients is that if you have a plan in place you are taking out some of the guesswork,” concludes Cassandra.  “Friends and family are already grieving; don’t add more stress by making them guess how you would want your affairs handled.”

Cassandra has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional for over a decade and works with clients to help make sure their long-term retirement and financial planning is on track.  Call 920-230-6898 to schedule an appointment with her today.