As the mom of two young boys, I am committed to making wills, trusts, and guardianship documents accessible for everyday families. The Law Office of Rebecca Geller works with families in Virginia and D.C. to draft wills, trusts, guardianship and power of attorney documents, living wills, and customized legal estate plans.
Myths abound about wills, trusts and legal documents for families. Here are a few of the most common myths and facts about each one to clarify this process and answer the most FAQ we receive.
MYTH #1: I am young and not wealthy, I don’t need a will. They are only for rich, old people.
FACT: Everyone has an estate and therefore everyone needs a will. Personal property (e.g., furniture, family heirlooms, art, jewelry, clothing, automobiles), bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and real estate are examples of items that may be disposed of through a will. Without a will, the state will decide who receives the property you acquired throughout your lifetime. Most people don’t want this to happen. Creating a will makes sure that your loved ones receive items of sentimental or monetary value.
MYTH #2: I don’t have anything to give anyone when I die. I don’t even own a home.
FACT: Even if you determine that the property you own doesn’t have much monetary value, the sentimental attachment to personal belongings can prompt people to create a will to allocate who receives what when they die. Who will receive your engagement ring? Your photo albums? Aside from property, who will be the guardian for your children? Who will care for your pets? Where do you want to be buried and how? Dying without a will leaves these decisions to the state.
Myth #3: My family will take care of my children when I die. I don’t need to make provisions for them.
FACT: If you don’t appoint a guardian for your children when you die, a judge will decide who raises your children. Is this really what you want? The judge may not share your values, religious beliefs, or child rearing views. Without a will, the judge will not know who you believe is best suited to raise your children in your absence. Creating a will puts you in control of your children’s future. You wouldn’t allow a stranger to dictate how your children are raised while you are living, so why allow a judge to appoint someone to raise your children when you can appoint a guardian yourself.
Myth #4: A trust is a tax shelter for wealthy people. It isn’t meant for regular people like me.
FACT: A trust is an important estate planning tool used to make sure that your kids have money for an education, wedding, down payment on a house, special needs, etc. It is not a tax shelter, although there may be tax benefits to establishing a trust. A trust also helps you avoid the need for a conservatorship in the event of your incapacity. Loss of legal capacity can occur as the result of an accident or illness, and may only be temporary, or can be caused by something more permanent such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Additionally, a living trust keeps your affairs private by avoiding probate. You don’t share all of your financial information with everyone during your lifetime, why do so upon your death.
MYTH #5: I have never worked with an attorney before and I am worried that the legal fees will be too expensive and the attorney cannot relate to my life.
FACT: One of the reasons I started my own law practice is to make the legal system accessible and affordable to everyday families. One of my recent clients recommended me to her friends and said: “Rebecca Geller was patient in taking the time to explain the differences between regular wills, trusts, power of attorney choices, etc. She was able to make recommendations that best fit our lifestyle and budget. She was timely, responsive and a pleasure to work with. I have already recommended her to a few friends looking for similar services!”
The Geller Law Group offers a free initial phone consult to anyone interested in a legal estate plan. Please email her at RGeller@thegellerlawgroup.com to schedule yours today.
Disclaimer: The information provided by the lawyer and publisher in this blog/website is for educational purposes only, as well as to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this blog/website, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney. The blog/website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.
@Copyright The Geller Law Group. 2013.