Maybe you’re young and healthy, or maybe you’re hale and hearty – but, either way, you haven’t given much thought to estate planning. Maybe you figure that you have plenty of years left, or maybe you figure that you don’t have any real assets worth fighting about – or maybe you assume that everything you have will automatically go to your spouse or kids.
All of that is a huge mistake. When you leave your estate plans to chance, you may leave your loved ones in a state of confusion right at the time when they’re trying to cope with their feelings of grief over your loss.
Why does everybody need an estate plan in place?
Everyone who is over 18 years of age needs an estate plan in place. This means:
- You eliminate the chance that the state will control what happens with your assets. If you don’t leave a will behind, that’s called dying intestate. When that happens, the state will divide up what you have according to its own system, and that may not remotely reflect your expectations or wishes.
- You eliminate the chance that your personal items will go to the wrong people (or simply be destroyed). Maybe the only thing of value you have is your skateboard and your sketches or poems – and you know that your little brother would love the skateboard and your mom will want the sketches. Without the proper documents in place to make sure those items get where you intend, they could be given to the wrong people or simply tossed by your landlord.
- You are prepared for a situation that requires help. Estate planning isn’t just about deciding what happens with your stuff if you die. It’s also about deciding who will be in charge if you’re no longer able to make your own decisions. Powers of attorney can be part of your estate plans, and these documents allow someone you love and trust to step in and make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you’re in an accident or take seriously ill.
It’s hard to think about your own mortality, but putting your estate plans together is a loving act. Find out more about your legal options.