What is the purpose of an estate plan? At its most basic, an estate plan ensures the smoothest, most orderly transition possible at the time of your death. This means that your loved ones know where you want your property to go – and how to get it there. It also means that, if you have young children, your loved ones know who is supposed to take care of your children, and what your expectations are for how your kids are to be brought up.
A comprehensive estate plan also includes a plan for what will happen if you’re mentally incapacitated. So, your loved ones know what your wishes are for the managing of your medical care and for the handling of your finances – and they can effectively and efficiently carry out those wishes.
An estate plan can also minimize the amount of property that gets handed over to the government in the form of taxes, while preserving that portion of your estate for your family members or for favorite charities. There are countless ways that an estate plan can help bring order and peace to an otherwise dark and distressing chapter of your family’s.
On the other hand, consider what can happen if you neglect to put an estate plan in place. If you become mentally incapacitated; say, in a car accident – not only does your family have to deal with the trauma of your injuries and inability to communicate, they also have the added stress of the living probate process. They’ll need to hire a lawyer and go before a judge to have a guardian or conservator appointed for you.
If you pass away, it’s state law, and not your wishes, that will dictate who gets your property – and possibly who ends up raising your children. And the process of determining all this can be incredibly time consuming and expensive.
As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. When it comes to estate planning, this means unnecessary turmoil and uncertainty for your family during an already traumatic time.