No one likes to talk about death, even though we all know it is inevitable. The tough question that follows the necessary discussion includes what you want to happen when you are no longer alive. Who will raise your children and what will happen to your assets? If you procrastinate and do not make your own plan, the courts or someone else will make these decisions for you.
Perhaps the biggest reason to have an estate plan is to decide who will raise and care for your children if you and your spouse should both pass away. An experienced estate attorney who is knowledgeable about guardianship laws in your state can help you make a plan, as noted in Houston (MO) Herald’s recently published article, “Establish an estate plan before death comes knocking.”
It is easy to put off these tough decisions by thinking we have plenty of time, but the truth is that we really don’t know how much time we’re going to have.
It’s also easy for disagreements and misunderstandings to occur when someone passes away, particularly when the ownership of assets isn’t clear. A professionally drafted will and other estate planning documents can eliminate much of this stress and heartache. The cost of settling an estate may be high, but it’s even higher if an estate plan isn’t in place.
If you make a plan, let your family know about it and get it in writing. If you do this, you can help avoid a lot of stress and misunderstandings.
The first step is to take an inventory of everything you own and your debts to create a net worth statement. You should think about estate asset transfer methods, including, right of survivorship for title, non-probate transfers, wills, trusts, and gifts. Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to review all of this.
The main enemy of estate planning is procrastination. Start working on your plan right now!
Reference: Houston (MO) Herald (October 10, 2015) “Establish an estate plan before death comes knocking“.