Death is inevitable and unfortunately, we can’t take any of our things with us when we go. This is why it is important to have an estate planning and probate attorney to help you create your estate plan. Everything you own forms a part of your estate. An estate plan is the process whereby you arrange the management and beneficiaries of your estate while alive, so that when you pass away you have a say in who receives your possessions as well as what they will receive and when. You would want this entire process to happen without lengthy and costly court cases or disputes regarding the estate if you pass away without an estate plan.
There are a few important things that you need to include when creating an estate plan. It is not simply about naming the who, the what, and the when. Your estate plan should also consist of the following:
- Instructions regarding your care if you are mentally or physically incapacitated before your death.
- A named guardian for your children if they are still minors.
- Provisions for special needs family members without infringing on governmental benefits.
- Life insurance in order to provide for your family.
- Disability income insurance in the case of an accident or illness which renders you unable to work and provide an income.
- Long-term care insurance to cover the costs of your care in the case of illness or injury.
- A will or living trust to provide clear and concise instructions regarding your estate.
Regardless of who you are, you will need to create an estate plan. You never know when something will happen, which renders you incapable of making these decisions. These decisions will not only affect you and your care but also your family members. Remember, creating an estate plan is not a one-time thing, having the guidance of a probate attorney will help you. You will need to review and update it as your financial position and familial relations change throughout the duration of your lifetime.
If you don’t have a set plan in place, your state will arrange to do everything but it may adversely affect your loved ones.
The importance of an estate plan:
Unless you provide otherwise by having a durable power of attorney, In the event of disability or diminished capacity, only a court appointee may sign for you. That is to say that you and your loved ones will have no control over your assets, but the court will. It is an expensive and time consuming endeavor, and if you do recover there is no guarantee on how long it will take for you to regain full control of your assets.
Your assets will be divided in accordance with the probate laws of your state, unless you have a will or a trust in place. Your spouse and children will each receive a share in this, but this could leave your spouse/children with only a fraction of what you intended them to have. In the case of minors, the court will have control of their inheritance. In the event that both parents perish, in an accident, the children will go into the care of a court appointed guardian. Regardless of whom you would have liked to take care of them.
These are only two of the various things you would need to consider if you had to meet an untimely end and your affairs were left in the hands of the state.