Wills and estate planning are essential. Yet, people put it off, sometimes until it’s too late. Maybe a recent life event like a marriage or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, or getting an inheritance has made you realize now is the time to take action. Or, perhaps the death of a loved one or of a friend has helped you see the problems that arise and the difficulties that family survivors face when proper planning doesn’t occur. Perhaps a recent illness or an elderly parent may have brought home the reality of mortality and the complications that can follow.
Whatever the reason, if you’ve decided it’s time to quit procrastinating and develop a plan, you’ll realize you need a knowledgeable and experienced, understanding and understandable legal advisor to get it done right. A thoughtful plan ensures your wishes are followed and your surviving loved ones are provided for. You can contact me for a no-cost initial consultation.
Why should you hire an estate planning attorney?
“Nothing is certain but death and taxes”. Wills and estate planning are crucial because of that certainty. Yet we all put it off. We’ll get around to it tomorrow. One reason we procrastinate is that we don’t like thinking about or accepting the reality of our death. Some monks sleep in their coffins every night as a reminder that death is inevitable. Accept it. See a good attorney and sleep better, knowing that when you pass on, your wishes will be honored and your loved ones cared for. This is also a great kindness to your loved ones. It will be a blessing for them in their time of grief by making the process of settling your financial affairs simpler, clearer, easier, and cheaper. It will give them comfort to know they are faithfully carrying out your wishes. It will mercifully prevent the conflict and destructive bad feelings that can arise between surviving loved ones when things are left uncertain and undecided.
If you die without a will and without planning, everything you own (your estate) will be given away according to the laws of the state. A judge will decide who gets what, maybe including, if your pie is big enough, a very generous slice for the federal and state governments. What’s left over will go to your statutory heirs — relatives and descendants in the order determined by the state laws. Today that can be complicated — with second marriages, divorces, married ex-spouses, stepchildren, adoptions, confusing relationships with siblings in other states, etc.
A will and estate planning changes that. Now a person you choose (an executor or personal representative) settles your estate. Everything in it, or any part of it, goes to whoever you direct the executor to give it to — as you specify in the will. A judge only approves that the executor has accurately and truly done this (the probate process). With proper planning, even that probate may be minimized or eliminated altogether. Most importantly, planning with a good lawyer (putting his head together with the accountant if things are complicated enough) can ensure that the government is kept out of your pockets, that you minimize or avoid any estate taxes.
Maybe you’re the prudent type who plans ahead. You’ve already done a will. But maybe that was 10 or 20 years ago. Things have changed. Children have grown up, maybe even gotten married and have children of their own or adopted one. Perhaps you’re going through a divorce now. People you intended to provide for may have died or be living in much different circumstances. The tax laws have almost certainly changed. Maybe you have more stuff now. In short, things happen and life changes. Periodically, it’s important to review your existing will and estate plan to make updates and revisions for those changes.
You should do this now — even if all you want is as simple as giving everything to your surviving spouse. Contact me for a no-cost initial consultation.