By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Many Oklahomans believe estate planning is only for the wealthy.  Since the only stories we seem to hear and see in the press are stories of the 1 percent- like Prince’s failed estate plan, or Robin Williams’s wonderful plan- it’s understandable that most people may not think estate planning applies to them.

But, most people would be wrong.  According to a WealthCounsel survey, nearly 1/3 of respondents knew someone who was, or were involved themselves, in family feuds because a deceased family member didn’t plan his or her estate.

We want to help your family avoid that pain and stress, so today we will discuss 5 Misunderstandings About Estate Planning.

(1) Only the Wealthy Need an Estate Plan

Estate plans are for everyone.  Estate plans help you choose who you want to receive your assets when you die, and can help you put restrictions on those assets and how they’re used after your death.  Estate planning is entirely about you and your goals.  Professionals can help you achieve those goals in your own plan.

(2) The Only Benefit of Estate Planning is Financial

It is true estate planning saves your family money.  It can stop them from having to go to Court and fighting over your assets.  Trust me, we all think our families won’t fight, but you’d be surprised what money can do to families.

The benefits of estate planning are non-financial as well.  Imagine all the stress you’re saving your loved ones by providing them with a road map of what to do with all of your assets.  You save them even more stress if you can stop them from having to go to Court to transfer those assets. Estate plans are also crucial for naming Guardians of children and/or pets when you die.

(3) The Best Estate Planning Document is a Will

The simple truth is a Will does not achieve everyone’s goals.  Despite popular belief, if you only have a Will, your family will have to go to Court to transfer your assets. Wills also become public record once the owner dies.  A Will is a great planning document- for some people.  But, it’s not for everyone.

(4) Young People Do Not Need Estate Plans

Everyone needs an estate plan.  If you do not have one, the Court determines who gets what assets.  In Oklahoma, even if you’re married, only a portion of assets will go to your spouse if you die without an estate plan.  Young people need to consider this and realize they do need a plan.

Also, young people need to be aware that the baby boomer generation is expected to transfer over $30 trillion over the next few decades, making young people heirs to a lot of money that they will need to plan for as well.

(5) Families Pay for the Deceased’s Debts

Families will not owe money out of their pockets for debts of the deceased.  Should the deceased have creditors, the money in the estate will be used to settle those debts.  Some debts will even be forgiven altogether.  This may impact overall distributions to the heirs, but the heirs have no personal liability-usually.