The Importance of Estate Planning
The notion of estate planning can feel overwhelming, especially if you have put it off until the last moment. People never foresee unexpected tragedies, but sadly, they happen. Before you delay an estate plan any further, thoughtfully consider the legacy you wish to leave your loved ones. If the inheritance you currently have legally prepared doesn’t reflect your actual wishes, then it is time to create an estate plan.
Let’s start with the basics – what is an estate plan? Forbes defines it as, “…a collection of legal documents that sets forth how you want your assets distributed when you pass away, and how you want people to handle health and financial decisions if you are unable to do so for yourself during your lifetime”. In simpler terms, an estate plan includes legal documents that outline your final wishes once you pass away or if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
Maybe you have an estate plan in place, but when was the last time you updated it? Major life events should be a catalyst for reviewing your plan to verify that it is written in a manner that reflects your intentions.
Now that we’ve defined it, it’s time to delve into the importance of estate planning.
Decisions concerning your assets will be made regardless of whether you are the one making the choice or not. If you would prefer to decide how your finances, property, and personal belongings are divided then it is crucial to have a legal estate plan in place. If you fail to do so, probate court will intercede and make decisions on your behalf.
Probate court operates under specific legal perimeters and guidelines. If you don’t have an estate plan, it doesn’t matter that your loved ones feel they know your final wishes. The judicial system doesn’t operate on assumptions. The court will name a person to divide your assets – it just might not be who you would have selected. Avoid this issue completely by working with a trusted attorney to solidify your estate plan.
Time-Consuming and Expensive
While your assets are being divided in probate court, no one is permitted access to your belongings and accounts. Insider reports that your items are, “…frozen until the court system combs through every detail of your estate, applies state laws, pays off debts, and makes decisions about how to allocate your assets”. As you can imagine, this is not a quick process. It’s especially hard if your family is relying on your inheritance to pay off significant bills such as those associated with funeral costs.
Probate court is not free. Again, Insider states, “[t]he probate process involves paperwork and court appearances by lawyers, and the estate pays their fees.” Imagine your family receiving less money from your estate simply because you didn’t have a legal plan in place prior to your passing.
What happens to your children if you and your spouse pass? If you have an estate plan, the person you name will be granted guardianship. Without an estate plan, the courts will decide who will get custody of your children. Most parents think through every angle before choosing their children’s guardians. They want to make certain that whoever is raising their children in their absence does so in a manner they agree with. Don’t let your failure to plan take this decision from you.
We are here to help you establish a plan.
The attorneys at Flanagan, Lieberman, & Rambo are the experts you need to feel confident in your estate plan. Don’t leave your legacy up to chance. Rather, invest the time and money into legally solidifying your final wishes before it is too late.
Contact us today to get started.