Bad Advice You May Have Heard About Estate Planning

Estate planning services are incredibly important in terms of protecting your family because you are preparing everyone for a future in which you are no longer around. However, as you begin to try and figure everything out, you may hear advice that is ill-conceived or just plain foolish. You are always much better off seeking assistance from a legal professional who can account for all of your estate planning needs whether they are straight forward or more complex. 


Here are some examples of bad advice that you should always ignore:


Example 1: You Don’t Need to Hire an Estate Planning Lawyer
This is perhaps the worst piece of advice that anyone can offer you when it comes to estate planning. DIY methods are usually not successful because they often create legal complications at some point down the road simply due to the lack of personalization in the documents or due to improper execution. Estate plans are essentially blueprints for how to manage and distribute your assets, and they often consist of a collection of documents. You must be incredibly meticulous when drawing up and finalizing each of these documents, otherwise you could easily overlook a crucial legal detail. Unfortunately, in this area you just don’t know what you don’t know, and if you’re not actively engaged in the practice of law and seeing first hand all of the ways a plan can go awry, you will not have the knowledge or experience to get a plan together that will actually work when the time comes.


Estate planning lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the laws that directly impact your estate plan. They also pay close attention to any legislation that will require you to update your plan if necessary. If you are not keeping up with any of these changes, then your estate plan will likely suffer.


Related post: 5 Reasons Working with an Estate Planning Attorney is Key


Example 2: You Don’t Need an Estate Plan and That’s Because You’re Not Wealthy
This is the kind of advice that is abominably bad. Regardless of your annual income or net worth, you need an estate plan in place to protect not only your assets but provide your family with the protection that they need if something ever happens to you. The truth is that we all have something that we value immensely. For example, perhaps you are the mother or father of several young children. What will happen to them if an untimely death in the family were to occur? These are situations that can prove to be devastating if you don’t have an estate plan in place.


Unfortunately, life has its many pitfalls to plan around — but life also offers you plenty of altruism, prosperity, and good fortune. Many families will experience a financial boom that comes in the form of job promotions, profit sharing, and a lot more. Who’s to say that a better opportunity isn’t right around the corner? If you experience any type of a life change, either putting an estate plan in place or reviewing your estate plan should always be a priority. 




Example 3: Just Give it All Away While You’re Alive
This one comes up more often than you’d think – you don’t need to hire an estate planning attorney in San Diego or do anything special, just give it all away while you’re alive! While this seems like a simple, practical solution to an age old problem, it is fraught with issues that many do not realize until it’s too late. First, how do you know when you’re going to pass away? As such, how do you know what to keep for your own benefit and what you can comfortably give away? Gave too much away and now need it back – well, you’re at the mercy of whoever you gifted to and have no legal rights. Gave something away and that person now has creditors – say goodbye to the property and hope you don’t need it again. Gave something away and triggered an unexpected property tax reassessment? Sorry, you can’t take that one back either.


More than just the practical concerns around not controlling property you give away; this is also an extremely inefficient way of transferring property from a tax perspective. Signing over a deed to a home just to avoid Probate and not hiring a trust attorney in San Diego can cost your kids hundreds of thousands of dollars more than if the home were passed by a trust. This is because lifetime gifts do not qualify for a step-up in basis treatment in respect to capital gains taxes. You may think you’re doing your kids a favor in deeding the property to them in the easiest way possible, but you’re setting them up for a very nasty tax bill if they ever go to sell the home later.


Related post: 7 Estate Planning Mistakes That You Should Always Avoid


Example 4: Lawyers Are Scamming You Out of Money
This particular assertion is very untrue because lawyers must adhere to higher ethical standards than any non-lawyer or company attempting to provide an estate planning product. If you read the disclaimer at the bottom of any non-lawyer plan, indeed they all essentially say they have zero responsibility when the plan does not work and that you should talk with an attorney instead of buying their product! Remember, you don’t pay a lawyer for a set of documents, you pay a lawyer to advise you on the best options for your family, to provide you the peace of mind that the plan in place will actually work, and that they will be liable if it does not – something you can never receive from a non-lawyer.  


Estate planning lawyers are providing you with services that allow you to protect and secure the assets that you own. They help you develop a strategy that will allow you to take care of your family well after you pass away and save your family many times more than any amount you pay them in upfront planning. When you partner with a reputable estate planning lawyer such as the ones at Jenkins & Jenkins, you can rest assured that we will always have your best interests at heart.




Estate Planning Services Simplified
Are you ready to begin drawing up estate planning documents? If so, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of the legal experts here at Jenkins & Jenkins, Estate Planning Attorneys. Based in the city of San Diego, we ensure that Californians can plan and prepare for the future by protecting their assets.


Testimonial from Pina, Satisfied Estate Planning Client
Jenkins & Jenkins redid our family trust and estate plan to fix a lot of the shortcomings we never knew existed in our old plan. They were not pushy at all and really explained how we could make our plan better, in a way that was easy to understand. Caroline and Michael took the time to learn about our goals, explain how all of the complicated tax and estate laws actually work, and put together a plan that actually addresses our needs. We now feel confident that when our plan is actually carried out one day, it will be as smooth as possible and stay far away from Probate court. Highly recommend!

Michael Jenkins

Michael Jenkins

Estate planning became personal to Michael when his father passed away suddenly without any plan in place. Since that day Michael has made it his mission to educate everyone on the need for an estate plan, provide the legal advice and guidance needed, and ensure that no family is left dealing with estate issues while grieving the loss of a loved one.


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