There is a common misconception that if you are not a millionaire there is no need to undergo estate planning. Somehow people have developed the notion that it only serves to help the super-rich. This could not be more wrong. Many states have laws in place that allow taking over and administrating the sale and disbursement of everything you own in cases where there is no will in place at the time of death. This can leave your estate in probate court for years and limit what your family receives. This article strives to show the importance of complete estate planning.
What Is an Estate Plan?
Estate plans are a set of legal documents that lay out a plan of action in how your material wealth and health will be handled if you become seriously ill, or die. These documents normally include a will, advance directive, and your choice of executors that will handle everything from making the hard medical decisions, distribution of any cash left behind to the individuals of your choice, and seeing that any material possessions end up in the hands of the people you have chosen and placed in the will.
Lack of proper estate planning can end up pitting one relative against another, which will cause the process to get hung up in a probate court for years. Lack of estate planning has literally ripped entire families apart. This is especially true when estates are valued at large sums of money and assets. Nothing can cause more immediate strife in a family than financial arguments. It can cause feuds that will last for many years to come.
Exercise Control with Your Estate
Taking the time to sit down with a estate planning lawyer and carry out complete estate planning is your chance to exercise complete control over what happens with your money, and possessions while you are in sound condition to do so. It is an act of kindness that will make your passing less stressful for all involved. Every detail down to the funeral arrangements can already be planned and ready to put into action.
Estate planning allows you to be very specific in the details of how personal items, money, stocks, bonds, cars, homes, paintings, jewelry, and anything of value is distributed. You can decide who would best manage your estate. You can feel confident that every decision going forth is set in stone long before you pass away. You can even have them interface with your personal injury lawyer. No one will be left struggling making the tough decisions.
The Perils of Not Having a Will
Many people think that not leaving a will and failure to establish legal estate planning paperwork simply means that all of your possessions and money will automatically end up in the hands of a spouse or surviving children. This is simply not the case. They may see a portion of the estate, but without an exact plan in place nearly any family member can grab a piece of the pie. This makes putting off the effort to protect your immediate family is a gamble that usually does not end well for your family.
Missing the boat on estate planning will also leave the executor position open for anyone the probate court decides is best, which can mean that a creditor takes over. This almost guarantees that all of your hard earned money will not be handed out with any sort of careful thought, or planning. Any monies and valuables distributed will be done out of what is left, rather than the bulk of the estate. It can really leave your family in a financial bind.
Making the Executive Decisions
There are considerations for young families to make that go beyond the importance of possessions and money. Estate planning is critical if you have minor children. There can be custody battles ensue if you do not have guardianship papers already signed and ready to be carried out in the event that both parents die. This can cause heartbreaking situations of children being moved from one location to another, or ongoing fighting between family members about who will raise the children.
Estate planning may be a task that at the outset seems uncomfortable, but the importance of having all of your affairs in order offers your entire family peace of mind. You know that you have gone the extra mile to ensure they are left with as few worries as possible. This process gives you the executive power to plan well in advance, while you are still in good health.
Advance Directives and Living Will
Part of complete estate planning is the creation of an advance directive, or living will. It is created while you are well and used anytime you are near death. It spells out the exact type of treatments and procedures you find acceptable. Some people prefer to not be on life support and it can be written directly into the advance directive by an attorney.
Another reason to plan your estate well is that you can designate an individual ahead of time that is responsible to make all health decisions and estate management if you become incapacitated for any length of time. Strokes, massive heart attacks and other chronic debilitating health events can make it impossible to take care of you and your home. This allows you to put someone in place when needed that you trust.
The Truth about Failing to Complete Estate Planning
Your family and estate can be caught up in a real mess if you do not take the time to make the important decisions now. Not only can it result in a long wait for access to money and valuables, but it can mean a much smaller portion goes to your loved ones than you intended. It can leave your family struggling to get by. The stress of that scenario is made worse by the grief that is naturally experienced from losing a loved one.
Putting estate planning off could mean your family is unprepared if disaster strikes. Contact an attorney today and make an appointment to create the legal documents that will ensure your loved ones that they will be taken care of when the time comes. Enjoy true peace of mind that in case of medical emergencies you receive your desired level of care.