Phoenix, AZ estate planning attorney Mark A. Bregman talks about what people might think when creating an estate plan that might not necessarily be valid or accurate.
More In This Category
I think the two biggest myths in estate planning are everybody comes in and they don’t want to pay estate taxes. In 2018 you’re not going to pay estate taxes unless you have more than $11 million. Most of my client’s don’t; some of them do and those turn out to be very interesting cases, but most clients don’t. So we have a questionnaire where we ask people to check off their concerns and everyone checks off I don’t want to pay estate taxes. So that’s a big myth.
The second big myth involves I don’t want to go to probate or this is so simple why do I need a lawyer? And the answer to that is for us in Arizona going to probate’s neither expensive nor complicated but it is something that has to be done by a lawyer. People that think that they don’t need lawyers to settle estates are like clocks that are stopped, they’re right twice a day but mostly they’re wrong because they go off and they try to do it themselves and they run into a problem. And then they ask their barber or their buddy how to solve it and then in the end, of course, we only see the ones that fail to work through that.
And then they got big problems and they pay us much more money and it takes a much longer period of time because they were acting under bad information because it’s not what they do. We do it every day; they do it once maybe twice in a lifetime. Even those people that have documents and they go to a general practitioner and they say well, this is eay but they forget to tell the person that’s supposed to be the executor of the estate well you owe a fiduciary duty to your brother’s and your sisters and to the creditors. And they go off and they start making mistakes and they think that because mom left me in charge that that means that they basically can run roughshod over their siblings. And by the time it gets back around to the lawyers maybe they’ve spent the money, maybe they’re spending a lot of money because both sides now have gotten attorney’s fees when a large portion of those cases, we can resolve by basically telling them what the ground rules are.
And in our trust administration where we’ve done the original planning and then somebody dies and they come to us it’s often just a one-hour consultation and setting the roadmap for what they have to do. Because if we’ve done our job it can be pretty simple but to make sure that when you run into a roadblock, recognize the roadblock, stop, consult with us before it turns into a mountain.