Without an estate plan, you leave your loved ones with an expensive, time-consuming and extremely stressful series of problems, according to The Huffington Post’s, “5 Consequences of Avoiding Estate Planning.” Trust us, it’s not how you want your family to remember you. Here’s what they will have to deal with once you are gone:
Court. Your family will need a court order to access your funds, if you become incapacitated or die. You also need to consider whether your family take care of your pets, pay your mortgage, other bills and pay for the cost of your funeral if you unexpectedly pass away. If your family is financially dependent on you, how will they take care of their own needs after you pass?
Probate Expenses. The costs of probate can be significant. Because your family members are bound by the court’s rulings, they might have to spend money on legal fees and get legal representation.
Time. Probate can take months or years to settle your estate, depending on the complexity of the estate and the complexities of your family. The court will designate an executor to your estate, and a family member or a disgruntled heir can contest their portion of the distributions. This adds considerable time and cost to the settling of your estate.
Your wishes ignored. If you don’t detail how you want your estate to be divided, the judge may go with the obvious first choice, a surviving spouse. But is that what’s best and what you want? You should have thought about what happens if he or she remarries and whether the inheritance will pass to the children of the other family instead of your own. Only proper estate planning can ensure that your children and grandchildren will be the ultimate beneficiaries of your estate.
Assets in multiple states. If you have property in multiple states, it can be subject to multiple probate courts, creating separate issues for your vacation homes and investment properties. This means additional probate, time and expense.
It’s not difficult to avoid this kind of a mess. You should meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to create an estate plan that will work for you and your family. Remember that you are doing more than protecting assets: you are protecting the people who you love from stress which in many cases, leads otherwise regular families to become divided and in some cases, estranged.
Reference: Huffington Post (February 11, 2017) “5 Consequences of Avoiding Estate Planning”