By Julie Stanley, Vice President of Estate Planning at The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma
No believer knows when Christ will call them home. Don’t let one of these common misconceptions stop you from protecting the people and possessions you’ll leave behind.
Myth 1: I don’t need an estate plan because… wait, what exactly is an estate plan?!
While this technically isn’t a myth, the nature of estate planning seems shrouded in mystery. This may be because it’s difficult to talk about what happens when we die. So, what is an estate plan? A set of essential legal documents that settle critical end-of-life decisions like asset distribution, children’s guardianship, healthcare decisions and charitable giving. Specifically, an estate plan allows you to:
- Pass on your possessions according to your wishes and values
- Leave instructions for your care for if you become disabled or incapacitated
- Choose a guardian for children under age 18
- Support your church and other charitable causes
- Care for family members who have difficulties dealing with money
- Provide for loved ones with special needs
- Transfer ownership of your business
- Minimize court costs, attorney fees and other legal expenses
Myth 2: Only the wealthy or retired need an estate plan.
This is the single biggest misconception about estate planning. While it may sound like something for the “rich and famous,” everyone needs an estate plan, regardless of income, age or marital status. Even those with modest means (or significant debt) still have assets like their home, personal effects and other possessions that must be distributed. For young families, an estate plan answers questions about who will care for your children if both parents die. For single or older individuals, an estate plan details health care wishes should injury or illness prevent you from making decisions for yourself.
Myth 3: My spouse or family will take care of this after I’m gone.
This is a tremendous burden to place on family members who are already grieving your loss. Without an estate plan, you are forcing them to guess your wishes. Families can be torn apart by disagreements over how a loved one’s assets should be divided. An estate plan resolves this by detailing your desires in advance.
Myth 4: I’m married but don’t have children so I don’t need an estate plan.
Don’t assume your assets will easily transfer to your spouse. There are often complex legal hurdles that an estate plan can help avoid. Plus, without an estate plan more of your spouse’s assets may be lost to taxes, court costs or legal fees.
Myth 5: I don’t need an estate plan because I’m single.
Death doesn’t discriminate by marital status. Without an estate plan, state law will determine what happens to your assets when you pass — not you. An estate plan also includes vital information about your care should you become disabled or incapacitated. If you are incapacitated, what choices do you want to be made about your life? Don’t assume parents, siblings, or other relatives can make choices according to your wishes. Save them from the burden of guessing what you “would have wanted.”
Myth 6: It’s complicated and time consuming.
Not with help from the estate planning experts at The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma and WatersEdge. The Baptist Foundation of Indiana’s partnership with these organizations provides Indiana Baptists with access to a host of complimentary estate planning resources. Begin by scheduling a virtual appointment with one of the Foundation’s estate planning professionals at www.bfok.org/plan. Next, complete the online Estate Planning Guidebook to gather the necessary information to create your plan. You’ll be guided by the “Pattersons,” a fictional family working through an estate plan of their own.
Myth 7: I’ll get around to it eventually.
Sadly, we’ve heard this from far too many families whose loved one has unexpectedly passed away or become incapacitated without an estate plan in place. This means their possessions are subject to the inheritance laws of the state, which likely won’t correspond with the deceased’s wishes. The Bible tells us life is short and that no believer knows when Christ will call them home. Please don’t put off your estate plan. The Foundation’s online Estate Planning Guidebook streamlines the process, allowing you to complete the majority of the work at your pace, from the comfort of your home — even in your PJs! You can access the guidebook for free at www.bfok.org/plan.
Myth 8: I already have an estate plan, so I’m set for life.
Life doesn’t stand still. Babies are born, teenagers become adults and sometimes a spouse or child leaves this earth before you do. Updating your estate plan every five to seven years is critical to wise stewardship of your estate.
CALL TO ACTION: Protect your family with an estate plan.
The Baptist Foundation of Indiana’s partnership with The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma and WatersEdge provides Indiana Baptists with access to a host of complimentary estate planning resources. Learn more by contacting the Foundation at 317-481-2400 ext. 300 or firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.inbaptistfoundation.org.