Happy New Year! At the start of the New Year, I always have families coming to me wanting to set up an estate plan. It’s something many people put off and I suppose they use the New Year to make a resolution to get it done. So, for this New Years instead of explaining the process and different legal aspects, I simply wanted to explain why I think estate planning is so important (which I hope you agree with if you’re reading this).
I don’t have a personal horror story of how things went wrong or anything along those lines. But I do have (for another few weeks until 2 more are added) 5 nieces and a nephew. I hope that their parents never need their estate plan. However, because their parents have planned for them, I know it’ll be a little bit less difficult if they do.
The only major loss I’ve experienced was my grandmother and I truly cannot tell you how hard that was for me and my family. When it happened, I helped plan the funereal, clean out her house, and do many of the things that just needed to get done. Things went by very quickly and in a haze. It was already a difficult time and I cannot imagine trying to deal with the court and additional legal matters during that time. Because my grandmother had thoroughly planned, we didn’t have to. She made it that much easier for us.
Unfortunately, death is a certainty of life, and in most situations, that’s a very hard truth. A good estate plan can take away a lot of legal complications that occur when a loved one passes. I encourage everyone to make it that much easier for those left behind by creating an estate plan. Much of an estate plan is for your loved ones.
But there’s a whole other aspect of estate planning that is both for you and your family. The probate court doesn’t just get involved at death, it also has authority over adults who can’t make decisions for themselves. When a person becomes incapacitated they no longer can make legal, financial, or perhaps even medical decisions. If they haven’t planned properly, whomever is taking care of them must go to the probate court to get permission to access accounts, sell houses, etc.
When a loved one is already incapacitated much of their loved ones energy is already spent on that person, having to go to court and sort out bank accounts, cars, homes, etc. is just another obligation requiring time and energy that could be spent in other ways.
Essentially, an estate plan makes a hard time easier. There are still legal issues that must be taken care of when a person passes or cannot make their own decisions, but at time that’s already difficult, a bit easier is very helpful.