Three Reasons You May Believe You Don’t Need to Think about Estate Planning (Spoiler: You’re Wrong!) From Austin Estate Planning Lawyer Liz Nielsen

Three Reasons You May Believe You Don’t Need to Think about Estate Planning. (Spoiler: You’re Wrong!)

Below are a few excuses you may tell yourself as to why you do not need to do your estate planning. Spoiler alert – you might be very wrong.

“I don’t have enough money to need a will”

This is one of the most common reasons people don’t have a will. But wills are about far more than just money.

  • Do you have a child? What happens to the child in the event of your death? Who will care for the child? This is especially important if you are a single parent.
  • Do you live with someone? If so, do you want that person to get any of your assets if you die? Remember that your partner’s entire way of life can be upended if you don’t pass them assets, even if they’re not significant.
  • Do you have pets? You may want to designate someone to care for your pets in the event of your death.
  • Also, remember that there are assets other than “money.” Cars, jewelry, furniture,  and keepsakes are all part of your estate.
  • Do you want to be cremated? Buried? Frozen? A will can document your wishes, so your loved ones don’t have to guess what you would have wanted.

“I don’t need to have estate planning right now, because nothing has changed.”

Many people say this, believing because they’re still married to the same person, in basically the same financial situation, “nothing has changed.”

While it might be true that your situation hasn’t changed, the external situation might well have.

  • Federal laws regarding estates have changed significantly over the past few years. Depending on when your will was drawn up, you may have provisions that will reduce the value of your estate.
  • Executors and trustees named in your estate planning documents age, just as you do. You may need to change them if they are incapable of handling the designated responsibilities.

“I don’t need to worry about my beneficiary forms, because I have a will.”

It’s important to understand that your will guides the distribution only of assets that pass-through probate. Some items that may not pass through probate are the following:

  • Your bank accounts – if your bank account is titled in the name of you and someone else as joint-tenants-with-right-of-survivorship (“JTROS”), it will automatically pass to the other person on the death of the first.
  • Your retirement accounts – the beneficiary form filed with the financial institution governs the distribution of these assets regardless of what the will says.
  • Your life insurance – like your retirement assets, the beneficiary form filed with the insurance provider governs the distribution of those assets.

It’s worth reviewing your beneficiary designations from time to time to ensure that they still reflect your wishes. If you are married, note that some states limit your ability to designate someone other than your spouse as your primary beneficiary.

Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning to individuals and families in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.