“If your estate is less than $150,000 total, including your home, you are among the rare few who do not need to read this article.”
If you have an estate with any real assets, you should carefully weigh the risks of failing to make proper estate plans. This is the message in an article in The Huffington Post, “5 Consequences of Avoiding Estate Planning.” Here is an overview of those risks:
Court. Be prepared with a comprehensive estate plan so your family won’t need a court order to access your funds, if you become incapacitated or die. You need to consider whether your family can 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 to dispute the court’s rulings.
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.
Without any preparation, your family will face legal and financial issues that could have been easily avoided. It can cause an otherwise happy family to split at the seams. A qualified estate planning attorney can create planning options tailored to your situation. Take the worry, hassle and expense of your demise out of your family’s hands.
Reference: Huffington Post (February 11, 2017) “5 Consequences of Avoiding Estate Planning”