When people hear the word “estate”, they usually think they need to be rich with plenty of assets for the thought of estate planning to be relevant to them. But the truth is, everyone needs an estate plan. No matter if you’re rich with a lot of assets or poor with a few assets, estate planning is an important task. If you don’t do estate planning, you or your family can encounter these three problems.
Your Family Will Have to Go to Court
If you don’t have a plan, or if you only have a will, you’re forcing your family to go through probate when you pass away. Probate is a long, difficult, and costly legal process for settling estate. Depending on the complexity of your estate, probate can take months or even years to complete. In addition to that, once all of your debts, taxes, and court fees have been paid, there may be nothing left for anyone to inherit.
In addition to having to sort out who inherits what, your family will be left to deal with the crowded court system that can be challenging to navigate even in the best circumstances. They’ll have to do this even in the midst of grieving your death, planning your funeral, and contacting everyone you’re close with to notify them of your death. Going through probate court can be a lot to handle, and that’s why it’s advisable to have an estate plan.
You Have No Control Over Who Inherits Your Assets
If you die without an estate plan, the court will decide who inherits your assets, and that can cause a lot of problems within the family. Your state’s intestate succession laws will determine who gets what, and it’s usually largely dependent on whether you are married and if you have children. Spouses and children are given top priority, followed by other closest living family members. People who are single with no children will usually have their assets go to their parents, siblings, distant relatives, or even the state if no living relatives can be located.
Additionally, dying without an estate plan can cause your surviving family members to get into an ugly court battle over who has the most right to your property. It’s not uncommon for families to tear apart over an ugly court battle over a loved one’s assets. You can prevent that from happening by having an estate plan.
You Have No Control Over Your Medical, Financial, or Legal Decisions if You Become Incapacitated
An estate plan isn’t just for when you die – it’s also for when you are alive but incapacitated. While it’s true that estate planning primarily focuses on what to do when you die, it’s also important for planning for your potential incapacity due to accident or illness. Without an estate plan, your family would have to petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator to manage your affairs. Petitioning the court for guardianship or conservatorship is often costly, time consuming, and traumatic.
Start Planning with DK Rus Law
D. Kathleen Rus, Esq. is a Maryland estate planning attorney with over 25 years of experience. She’ll help you create an estate plan that protects you, your loved ones, and your assets. Avoid these potential problems by contacting us online, or giving us a call now at 410-591-6992.