Unfortunately, confusion and myth abound when it comes to “estate planning.” Perhaps that is why so few people actually get around to making such plans at all.
What is estate planning? If you were to ask 10 adult Americans this question, you would likely get 10 different answers. Even otherwise financially savvy people seem confused about estate planning.
Most erroneously equate estate planning with death planning. They think estate planning is limited to arranging for the ultimate distribution of their assets at life’s end.
Due partly to this confusion and partly to good, old-fashioned procrastination, it is little wonder that six out of 10 adult Americans have no estate plan at all.
In reality, the ultimate distribution of your assets is but one of many important elements to successful estate planning. Were your estate plan your autobiography, then the ultimate distribution of your assets would only be Chapter 4, the book’s final chapter.
The preceding chapters of your estate plan would involve a lifetime process of making legal arrangements to protect yourself, your loved ones and your hard-earned assets from three fundamental estate planning challenges: unnecessary probate, confiscatory taxes and unpleasant surprises.