Will Your Unfinished Estate Plan Leave Your Family Frightened?

Here’s a scary fact for you this Halloween: 60 percent of Americans don’t have any kind of will or estate plan in place. Many simply don’t know they need to plan ahead, while others don’t believe it to be necessary. It’s often assumed that the process is expensive, complicated, and time consuming. Online wills have grown in popularity recently, but this DIY approach often leaves out key components of estate planning.

Incomplete and unfinished estate plans are more than just a chore to take care of – they can be downright costly. Fail to plan ahead, and you and your loved ones could face expensive consequences. Here are just a few ways your unfinished estate plans could impact your family:

Your Property May be Unfairly Allocated

While it varies by state, generally, should you pass away before your spouse, only a portion of your property will go to your spouse.  Your children will likely receive the majority of your assets. The house you shared with your spouse may be sold to pay your children their share of the estate, which may leave your partner without a place to live.  A properly crafted estate plan can help you avoid this scary possibility.

Kids Under 18 Will Be at the Mercy of the System

It’s always difficult to imagine a tragic accident that causes the death of both parents, but these things happen all the time. Without an estate plan in place, the court decides who will raise your children upon your passing. They’ll assign a guardian to take care of the kids and someone to make financial choices on their behalf. An estate planning attorney can help you name your own preferred guardian and allow you to name your own trustee to handle your children’s finances.

Incapacitation Could Leave Your Affairs in a Stranger’s Hands

Should you fall ill, who is in charge of your financial affairs?  Who will make medical decisions for you?  These are questions for which many people do not have an answer. If you become incapacitated, a durable power of attorney can appoint a person you’d like to handle your financial and legal affairs.  Without this document, though, the Probate Court may appoint whomever they see fit. While this is most often a close family member of friend, it’s sometimes a neutral third-party who charges an expensive fee.  If you cannot make medical decisions for yourself, having a health care power of attorney in place will ensure that a court will not have to appoint someone to make those decisions for you.  Unexpected court fees on top of unexpected medical bills can easily overwhelm an already heartbroken family.

 

While some of these facts are frightening, the estate planning process is not.  Contact Wilson+Miller today to get started: (501) 221-7776.

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