No one knows when death will come, which is why so many attorneys push for people to put together their estate plans. Those plans have details on how to handle major assets and what a person wants to see happen if they’re badly hurt or unable to make decisions for themselves.
Failing to have an estate plan puts that person in a difficult position during the end of their life and makes life harder for their family after they pass away.
If you have no estate plan, you’re dying intestate
Dying without an estate plan is dying intestate. What that means is that the state laws about how to distribute your estate will come into play, and your wishes, whatever they may have been, will not be considered.
Every state has different laws, but they follow a similar pattern. Usually, a spouse obtains most of the property from the estate, while your children would obtain some. If you don’t have children or a spouse, then your parents will inherit the estate. If you have no parents, then a sibling may inherit the estate. This continues down the family line until there is no one left to inherit the property. If that occurs, then the state keeps it.
When you die without an estate plan, your family will need to go through the probate process. This is a process where the court approves the distribution of your assets but makes sure debts are paid. This is a longer process than if you had a will or trust, and it can be time-intensive and costly for your family.
What can you do to prevent trouble at the time of your death?
The best thing you can do is to set up a basic will at the very least. That way, you will be able to detail how you’d like your estate to be distributed. Your attorney can help you learn about other options, too, like setting up trusts or a long-term plan for Medicaid and other financial supports to protect your estate. Taking some time to do this now will help you build up an estate plan that is customized to your life.