You may not have given much thought to what happens; after all, no one wants to think much about their own death – but one of the worst things you can do to your family is to die without an estate plan.
Many people believe that they have time or are overcome with feelings of superstition and dread when planning for the end of their lives, despite the fact that the Pandemic encouraged people to consider what would happen at their death.
Most of us don’t know how much time we have or when we will pass on.
Accidents happen and many people die without an estate plan, which can have disastrous results for the loved ones who are left behind.
Being young or childless, being single, or refusing to face mortality are some of the excuses for failing to create a plan. Many people think that they don’t need an estate plan if their assets don’t exceed a certain amount.
This is absolutely false.
Whatever the reason, failing to create an estate plan causes chaos at your death, leaving your loved ones in the lurch. Inevitably, assets will need to be transferred and, without a clear set of instructions that a comprehensive estate plan provides, you are leaving a mess for those grieving your demise.
Dying without a will or trust is called dying intestate.
States have created statutes to deal with the issue of intestacy. Wills and trusts can address many issues, including who will care for children or pets, how assets will be distributed, and how taxes will be paid.
State statutes (NOT your family) will determine how and to whom your assets will be distributed if you do not have any estate planning documents in place.
Many states’ intestacy laws give only a portion of assets to the surviving spouse and give the remainder to descendants, without regard for the needs of individual recipients. This includes people who may be eligible for government benefits.
If you die intestate, then your estate will need to be handled through the courts. An individual will petition a court for appointment as executor, personal representative, or administrator, which will give that individual legal authority to collect and distribute your assets. That individual likely will need to retain an attorney to understand and navigate the complex court system.
A judge is in charge of the many steps in the public process. The judge will issue Letters of Administration or similar documents that give the executor power to marshal the assets of your estate. The court will make a decision if the family disagrees about who should serve in that capacity.
Usually, statutes entitle the executor to take a commission or fee as compensation for their services. Imagine if a stranger paid out of your money to someone who you didn’t choose, and then the public was aware of your personal business, and then they gave your assets to people you did not choose. There is something frightening about that.
The high point in this story is that you have complete control over your own future, at least when it comes to your estate plan. By contacting an attorney, you can accomplish your goals, keep your estate out of probate and die testate, that is with an estate plan such as a Will or trust.
As part of the estate planning process, your attorney will guide you through the perils of failing to plan and make suggestions and recommendations about the legal documents necessary to accomplish your goals. Most people feel relief and well-being upon executing their estate planning documents.
Creating an estate plan allows you to determine who will care for your minor children, how your assets will be distributed to those children, who will control those distributions when those distributions should be made, and whether distributions should be made to individuals, charities, schools, or museums.
A comprehensive estate plan helps prevent disputes and provides for tax planning. If you work with a qualified estate planning attorney, you can determine what will happen to your children, pets, and property after your death.
Your family can suffer years after your death if you don’t have a Will. It is important to do this task before it is too late.
Financial trouble delayed distribution of assets, and stress are just a few of the frightening things in store for your family if you die intestate. Most individuals find the probate process something close to the seventh level of hell; however, you can circumvent it.
Avoid the tragedy of intestacy by creating a set of instructions regarding what you want to happen when you die, otherwise known as an estate plan. Contact an estate planning attorney so that you can know that you have addressed the inevitable.
If you want to know that you addressed the inevitable, you need to contact an estate planning attorney.