© 2009 The Law Office of Lynn Morelli.  All Rights Reserved.
MYTH 1:        You only have to do a Will once in your life.
FACT:        Marriage and Divorce automatically terminate a Will.  In addition, other life events often render an
existing will inadequate or inapplicable.


MYTH 2:        I don’t need a Will because everything I own will automatically go to my spouse.

FACT:        If you die without a Will, everything does not automatically go to your spouse.  Your spouse must
share a portion of your probate estate with your children, or with your next of kin.


MYTH 3:        A “simple Will” is good enough to pass my estate to the people that I want to receive it.

FACT:        There are many things that can be drafted into your Will to ensure that only the people you want to
receive your estate will receive it.  An attorney who specializes in estate planning knows what questions to ask you
in order to tailor your Will to your specific goals and wishes.  “Simple Wills” from a “general practice” attorney are
often boilerplate documents that leave out some of the most important contents that make a Will worth doing in the
first place.


MYTH 4:        I don’t have a large estate, probating it would be easy.

FACT:        There is no such thing as an “easy” probate in Massachusetts.  The process is complicated, time
consuming and can require multiple court appearances.  A  properly drafted Will, prepared by an attorney who
specializes in estate planning, can eliminate or lessen court appearances and overall court involvement when your    
estate goes through probate, directly reducing attorney’s fees and court costs.


MYTH 5:        No matter what I do, my estate will have to go through probate when I die.

FACT:        Creating a trust during your lifetime can altogether eliminate probate.


MYTH 6:        If my spouse and I die while our children are young, their grandparents/our relatives will
raise them.

FACT:        A Will is the only legally valid document by which you can name a guardian to raise your minor
children. Without a Will, your minor children become wards of the state until the court approves a guardian, which
could be a long time if no one suitable steps forward, or if too many people want to raise them.


MYTH 7:        My spouse and I have adequately provided for our children with assets and life insurance
in the event that we die while they are still minors.

FACT:        Neither parents nor guardians of a minor child are the guardians of that child’s property. This means
that they cannot access the child’s property for the benefit of the child without first going through lengthy court
proceedings to become the guardian of the child’s property.  Even then the guardian must go through excessive
court involvement each and every time that they want to sell, invest, or distribute property to or on behalf of the
minor child. All of this results in court costs and legal fees.  A properly designed estate plan can lessen or eliminate
court involvement in the event that you die while your children are still minors.


MYTH 8:        If I am incapacitated due to injury or illness and cannot carry out my daily affairs, my       
spouse and other loved ones will pay my bills, monitor my investments, and generally take care of
everything.

FACT:        If you become incapacitated, your spouse or other loved ones will have to go to court to become your
guardian in order to take care of your financial affairs.  The court system is time consuming and expensive. A
properly drafted Power of Attorney that addresses all of the appropriate issues and contingencies can eliminate
court involvement.


MYTH 9:        If I am incapacitated due to injury or illness and cannot make health care decisions for
myself, my spouse and other loved ones will make the decisions for me.

FACT:        If you are incapacitated, your spouse or other loved ones may have conflicting views or may not know
what action to take regarding your medical care. Relatives, physicians, social workers and others may initiate costly
and time consuming court proceedings to resolve the conflict.  A properly drafted Health Care Proxy is the only
legally valid document by which you can name someone to step into your shoes and make health care decisions on
your behalf, eliminating the potential for involvement of the courts.


MYTH 10:        Death taxes are a thing of the past.  They won’t be around when I die.

FACT:        Currently, 99.8% of estates owe no federal estate tax because the federal government allows each
person an exemption which allows them to pass $5.6 million to their heirs free of estate tax. Massachussetts has its
own estate tax but it only allows an exemption of $1 million of a deceased person's estate. That means that if your
assets total more than $1 million, your estate could very likely owe estate tax to Massachusetts. With proper estate
planning, this tax burden can be alleviated.

The bottom line is this:  If you don’t have an estate plan, the government has one for you, and it is
guaranteed that you’re not going to like it.  Proper estate planning is not an option.  It’s a necessity.

10 Myths About
Estate Planning
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                                                                                                    © 2009 The Law Office of Lynn Morelli.  All Rights Reserved.