There are two prominent schools of thought on the topic of estate planning. Some people feel that it is absolutely essential and get most of the process taken care of before they’ve reached their 30th birthday while others feel that it is, in general, a big waste of time unless you happen to have a mansion and a lot of children to fight over your possessions. The fact of the matter is that estate planning is for everyone, whether or not you have a mansion or numerous offspring. Many people who put off estate planning or never intend to take care of this task would be surprised and deeply bothered to see what happens to their estate after final departure if they were around to see it.
While many people use estate planning as a way to extend their decisions beyond the grave and to manage their wealth, the core purpose of estate planning is to make things easier for your family during a very hard time. The legal inheritance process for people without an arranged plan is often far more difficult than it would have been with even a few hours of planning ahead of time. If you’re still on the fence about estate planning, let’s look at three of the primary consequences of deciding to skip.
1) Probate Delays
Probate is by far one of the most problematic aspects of the modern legal estate processing laws. This is the time period in which the state looks into the will to ensure that it genuine before any of the deceased’s possessions can be distributed to their heirs. Unfortunately, anything that is subject to probate including your home, is held during the probate investigation periods and becomes unavailable for legal and financial purposes until the new owners can be determined. This means that while your family is going through mourning and funeral expenses, they won’t have access to any of the money in your personal bank accounts and will not be the legal owners of any property you solely owned which can cause both financial and emotional hardship.
How does estate planning prevent this? There are actually a variety of ways to avoid probate but you have to arrange them before you pass away. The most common method is to put most of your possessions and property into a living trust.
2) Family In-Fighting
Most people write their will with only a few things in mind. You may remember to designate the inheritor of your antique armoire, your grandmother’s diamonds, and the deed to your home but there’s always going to be something for the family to fight about unless you have remarkably few or passive relatives. Writing your own will is a great way to make sure that specific concerns are taken care of but the estate planning process is there to help you determine exactly what will happen to each asset in your possession or designate what you encourage relatives to pick out for themselves.
The simple act of making a complete list and covering all your bases in your will and with more complex estate planning procedures can significantly reduce the amount of strife between relatives during the stressful time after your passing.
3) Exclusion of Loved Ones
Finally, perhaps the saddest result of an incomplete estate plan is when someone gets left out. This is often as a result of the deceased having not bothered to write a will, assuming things would work themselves out. Even if you are not an overwhelmingly wealthy person, it’s important to understand how much even a small bequeathment can matter to loved ones, especially while they’re still in mourning. If you want your estate to go to anyone other than your spouse or direct descendants, you must make this clear in your will and possibly plan your estate to make sure that these bequeathments can’t be contested by grief-riddled bickering relatives.
The fact of the matter is that while estate planning can make you feel better about mortality, the true purpose is to make the time after your passing easier for those who remain. When all your ducks are in a row and your estate takes care of itself smoothly, you can fund your own funeral, make sure your family is taken care of financially, and ensure that everyone who is mourning you gets a little something as a final loving parting gift. For more information about estate planning or to consult on what you can do with your estate, contact us today!