The loss of numerous celebrities over the past couple of years has given us important opportunities to think about the value of estate planning overall. You might assume that you are immune from the problems that could be associated with the traditional distribution of an estate because you don’t have assets or wealth of the same size as a celebrity’s.
However, this could be a big mistake because everyone can benefit from basic estate planning documentation simply if you wish to pass along guardianship of your minor child to someone else or if you wish to limit the number of conflicts that could come forward about your will or lack of will. Rock and roll star Prince and the queen of soul Aretha Franklin died without appropriate estate planning and passing without a will creates significant problems for your heirs.
Yet, according to recent studies completed by AARP, only two out of every five Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will. If you die without a will, your estate is settled based on the individual state laws that determine who inherits what. This means that you have died intestate and your assets will be passed through intestate succession. The state is up for determining who will be able to receive your real estate, your personal property, and anything else that you own. Probate involves the legal process of transferring your property to rightful heirs and an administrator will need to be appointed by the judge to manage this process. Not only can this be problematic for your loved ones from the perspective of the amount of time that it takes to resolve these issues, but this can be costly and can also lead to fighting and further conflict among your loved ones as they are coping with your loss. A consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is the first step to figuring out your estate planning goals and means.