If you have put off making your estate plan, it could be because you are among the many in Massachusetts who still believe one or more of the prevalent myths about the process and purpose of estate planning. Unfortunately, many who shrug off the necessity of having an estate plan are not around to witness the confusion and chaos they leave behind when their families cannot agree on what their loved ones would have wanted for their estates.
Putting to rest some of the misconceptions about estate planning is the first step to providing for your loved ones and protecting yourself in certain circumstances. You might be unaware of how versatile and beneficial an estate plan can be, but having one in place can mean the difference between leaving your family with trouble and disputes or giving them cause to be grateful for your foresight.
Making your plan work for you
Do you believe that you are not old enough or not rich enough to need an estate plan? Many people feel this way because they do not know the many facets an estate plan can contain. An estate plan can be much more than just a will, and it can offer many options besides distributing your assets after you die. Here are some important ways you can use your estate plan:
- Naming trusted individuals to carry out your final wishes
- Creating a plan for your own health care needs if you should become incapacitated
- Expressing your wishes for medical care in your final days
- Establishing safeguards for your financial and legal affairs if you should become unable to manage them
- Making clear your wishes for your funeral and related matters
Of course, another common myth is that once you have executed your will or established a trust, you are finished with the work of estate planning. Perhaps you believe this is true, and so you are waiting as long as possible before creating your plan. However, a well-executed estate plan remains flexible to accommodate any life events that change your assets, heirs or wishes.
To ensure your wishes remain valid, it is wise to revisit your plan periodically and to revise its contents following major life changes, such as getting married, the loss of an heir or designated agent, or a significant change in your assets. First, however, it is important to take the initial steps toward creating a comprehensive plan instead of waiting until it is too late.