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7 Common Estate Planning Myths Debunked

Posted by Daniel J. Eccher, Esq. | Jul 07, 2023

Do you believe lightning never strikes in the same place twice? 

As it turns out, that's not true. The Empire State Building, for instance, survives dozens of lightning strikes each year. Like other aspects of popular culture, estate planning has its share of beliefs that on closer scrutiny don't hold up to the facts. But because they've become widely accepted, people tend to think they're true. 

Myth 1: Estate Planning is Only for the Wealthy

Estate planning is essential for all adults at almost any income level, whether they're married or single or have children or assets. Having an estate plan helps ensure that your wishes will be carried out. It can also protect your loved ones, including any of your dependents. 

Myth 2: Estate Planning is Only for Older Adults

Sadly, death or incapacity can occur at any age. To ease the estate planning process, adults may plan for their futures well before old age. While you're in good health and capable of making sound decisions, you have better control over your future. For example, young parents can nominate a guardian for their minor children. 

Myth 3: Estate Planning is a One-Time Event

Estate planning is ongoing, not a one-time event. To reflect changing family dynamics, financial situations, or probate laws, update your estate plan regularly. Maine's Probate Code got a major overhaul in 2019. 

Myth 4: An Estate Plan Only Matters When You Die

Estate planning is more than planning for your death. It should also be about preparing for your future life, including potential incapacity. Naming people that you want to make financial and medical decisions for you if you lose the ability may help your family and caregivers down the line. Nominating people that you prefer to serve as guardians or conservators, if needed, also protects children or other dependents when you can't be there for them. 
Myth 5: DIY Estate Planning is Enough

Do-it-yourself forms or kits might contain documents not current or compliant with state laws. They could also fail to cover every aspect of your situation, such as the potential need for long-term care. Just as no two people are alike, no two estate plans are alike. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can tailor a legally valid plan for you. 

Myth 6: Estate Planning is Expensive

A basic estate plan is likely to cost much less than a vacation abroad! But you can't always put a price on the value of an estate plan. Not planning for your future could cost you and your loved ones more in the end; being prepared can save you time and money and reduce stress. In a crisis, those you love won't have to guess about your wishes. And you'll feel better knowing you've prepared them for the unexpected. It's an investment in your future and that of those close to you. Furthermore, failing to plan for long-term care can be quite expensive in the long run. 

Myth 7: My Health Insurance or Medicare Will Cover Long-Term Care

Outside of long-term care insurance, most forms of insurance won't fully cover long-term care. Depending on state law, Medicaid could require that enrollees meet certain eligibility requirements – including asset restrictions – for coverage; Medicare only covers certain services in skilled nursing facilities. An elder law attorney can develop a strategy that protects your assets even while you qualify for coverage. 

Some of us hold onto certain beliefs because they're popular and seem plausible. But a closer look at many myths, including those about estate planning, separates the facts from the fiction. 

We would be happy to demystify the estate and long-term care planning process for you. Contact us online or call (207) 377-3966 today.

About the Author

Daniel J. Eccher, Esq.

Daniel J. Eccher, Esq. is the Managing Shareholder at Levey, Wagley, Putman & Eccher, P.A., in Winthrop, Maine. Dan's favorite problem to solve is helping clients figure out how to afford long-term care while having something left for their family.

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