People sometimes hear little bits of information about aspects of the estate planning process and they make assumptions. They may spread around, and over time myths that are perpetuated over the years become truth.
These misconceptions can cause mistakes and yield negative consequences. Today, we will highlight four of them in this post.
The administration process is simple when you use a will as your asset transfer vehicle.
You may assume that the executor that is named in a will can distribute the assets quickly and efficiently shortly after the death of the testator. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
An executor cannot act independently without court supervision. They would be required to admit the will to probate, and the court would supervise the administration process.
The exact duration of probate will depend on the jurisdiction, the composition of assets, and the relative complexity of the case. Suffice to say that it will be at least eight to 18 months in most cases. It can take considerably longer if there are complications.
No inheritances are distributed while the estate is being probated by the court. Yet this is not the only drawback. Probate expenses consume a noticeable portion of the estate. Anyone that is interested can access the records to find out how the assets were distributed. Probate is a matter of public record.
Trusts are only for the wealthy.
This myth needs to disappear. High net worth individuals are exposed to the federal estate tax. They often use different types of irrevocable trusts to create estate tax efficiency. However, there is another type of trust called the revocable living trust. This trust is ideal for people of relatively ordinary means.
A major advantage of the living trust is the avoidance of probate. After your passing, the trustee that you name in the trust declaration is able to distribute inheritances to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
You lose control of assets in a trust.
There are those that do not consider the possibility of using any type of trust because they think that they would no longer have access to the assets. Once again, this is not the case with a revocable living trust.
The “revocable” designation is quite literal. Once you establish the trust, you can amend or revoke the trust at any time. This is one of the two ways you have complete control over the trust.
Your second source of control is created by naming yourself as the trustee of your living trust. When assets are retitled into the name of the trust, the trust would technically own the assets (to avoid probate), but you would control them as the trustee.
Trusts are too expensive for ordinary people.
Obviously, there is a legal fee involved when you work with an attorney to establish a trust. However, all trusts are used to satisfy certain objectives, so you are making an investment.
For example, we touched upon the fact that expenses accumulate during probate. If you use a living trust, set it up correctly and maintain it during your lifetime, you avoid the probate process entirely. You have to take this into consideration.
Plus, you can include spendthrift protection for your beneficiaries when you have a living trust. There may be a lower cost at first if you use a will, but the beneficiaries will receive lump sum inheritances.
There would be no asset protection, and they would be able to spend lavishly, exhaust their inheritances, and have nowhere to turn for support when the going gets rough.
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There is no one-size-fits-all estate plan that is right for everyone, and there are many tools in the toolkit. The ideal course of action will depend on the circumstances, and this is why it is important to discuss your options with an Oklahoma City estate planning attorney.
We would be more than glad to get to know you, gain an understanding of your situation, and make the appropriate recommendations. Ultimately, you can go forward with a custom crafted plan that is ideal for you and your family.
You can set the wheels in motion right now if you call us at 405-843-6100, and you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.