It is said that the best things in life are free, and to a large extent this is absolutely true. What could be better than a heartfelt smile on the face of your grandchild, the sights, sounds, and scents of springtime in the forest, or the playful antics of a puppy in the yard. However, when it comes to free advice it is a good idea to be extremely wary, and this is especially applicable to legal matters.
There’s a strange malady that afflicts some people that renders them unable to utter the words “I don’t know.” Given the opportunity to answer a question and give some advice these folks are going to pounce on it whether they truly have good information to share or not. And then there are others who may not be as reckless who still contribute to the misinformation that’s out there by passing along half-truths and outdated “facts” that are no longer true.
For example if the Bush era tax cuts had not been extended due to the tax relief measure that was passed in the middle of December of 2010 the estate tax exclusion would have reverted back to the 2002 level of $1 million. So a well-meaning individual could have read various articles throughout the year from reputable sources stating the fact that in 2011 the estate tax exclusion was going to be $1 million. This person may not realize that the new law has subsequently raised the estate tax exclusion to $5 million for 2011 and 2012, and he or she could go around giving out information that is simply not true.
Passing along the assets that you have accumulated throughout your lifetime to your family members is a very profound act on a number of different levels. Because it is so important it is only natural that you would seek out advice. But when you do, the wise course of action is to spend some time with a licensed estate planning lawyer who has dedicated his or her professional life to providing truly sound legal advice that is 100% reliable.