“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?”
– Basil S. Walsh

Hello Collin County Parent,

Well I hope your Thanksgiving was great! Mine sure was. I really enjoy getting to spend time with the family.

I think mentioned last week that I went to check the turkey and noticed that it was still frozen even though it had been sitting in the fridge for a week.  That’s what you get when you crank down the outside fridge over the summer, I guess. Thankfully, I was able to use some techniques I picked up from my restaurant days to quickly and safely defrost the bird in time.  Phew!

I smoked the turkey this year (and it was awesome if I do say so myself) and a good time was had by all.  Sadly though, we put the leftover turkey in the oven to keep it away from the dog while we were clearing the table and we forgot about it. Those same restaurant skills that helped me thaw the bird wouldn’t let us put it back in the fridge. Ah well. There are always Christmas leftovers to look forward to, right?

So how was Thanksgiving? Any family gaffes to share with the entire world? I’m kidding, of course.

(Seriously, though, send me an email and let us know how things are going with your family–we’d love to hear what’s been happening with you!)

This week I’d like to talk a little bit about some myths related to estate planning.

I would love your feedback, and this would be a great one to forward along to your friends (with our thanks!).

Aaron Miller’s
“Straight Talk” Personal Strategy
Part 1: Common Myths About Estate Planning

As of this writing, it’s a fact that almost 60% of Americans don’t have a basic will, and that’s a big problem.

One of the big reasons that most families don’t yet have this in place is because of some incorrect thinking about whether it’s right for them, or if it’s even necessary. And sure, some people just haven’t gotten around to creating a will or trust. Others think they don’t need an estate plan because they’re not rich. Some people don’t want to put it in place because when they do, it’s sending some sort of death wish into the universe (or some such).

Well, I’ll start by busting THAT myth: Preparing a plan for your succession will not speed your demise. Easy enough.

But here’s the problem–if you continue without an estate plan, you could leave a legacy of bad feelings and attorneys’ fees.

But let’s talk about some of the other more common misconceptions out there. I’ll start with two this week, and address three more a couple weeks from now.

1. Only rich people prepare estate plans.

Do you own ANYTHING? Because if so, you need a will. You see, a will allows you to designate who will receive your property should anything happen. Continuing without one ensures that your assets will be distributed under the terms of Texas’ “intestate succession” laws. That means your money and property could end up with family members you haven’t spoken to in years, instead of who you’d really like to see control your assets.

I won’t go into all of the different components of a will, trust, health care directive etc., because today I just want to emphasize that failing to plan is simply a decision to trust your assets to government bureaucrats.

Even if you think your situation is pretty straightforward, you may feel more comfortable hiring a lawyer to guide you through the process.

2. Everything goes to your spouse, if something happens.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. State law on this varies.  In fact, in most states, if you continue without a will (intestate), your inheritance will be divided among your spouse and your children. In New York, for example, when someone dies intestate, the spouse gets the first $50,000 of the estate and what’s left is divided 50-50 among the spouse and the children. You can imagine how this could create all kinds of problems.

But what about Texas?  Thankfully, here in Texas it doesn’t work like it does in New York.  But if you or your spouse has children from a prior marriage or outside of the marriage, things can get a little complicated and may not go like you want.  (And if you want to know more details on how this works for your specific situation, call Paula at 214-292-4225 to get on my calendar for your Family Wealth Planning Session and you’ll get the full scoop.)

I’ll send a few more in the weeks ahead, but I hope you can already see that things are not always as we “think”.

To your family’s wealth, health, and happiness!

Aaron Miller

(Now I’ve got to go finish defrosting that bird!)

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