Dying without an estate plan is a real-life horror story that many people avoid confronting. The chilling truth is that accidents happen, and a significant number of individuals face the consequences of dying without proper planning. The excuses for neglecting an estate plan vary, from age and childlessness to a reluctance to acknowledge mortality. However, the aftermath of dying without a plan can be catastrophic, leaving loved ones to navigate a maze of legal complexities.
Intestacy (what we call dying without an estate plan) typically triggers a probate process, a public and often complex legal procedure. During probate, a court appoints an individual to collect and distribute the deceased person’s assets. This process may involve a total stranger handling your personal affairs, and the details become public knowledge. The appointed executor may receive a commission, paid from your estate, to distribute assets according to state laws. What is worse is that family members don’t have control in the decision making and if there is a dispute a court must decide.
Seeking guidance from an estate planning attorney allows you to avoid probate, preserve your legacy, and determine precisely how your assets will be handled after your passing. An estate plan enables you to specify who will care for your children, how assets will be distributed, and when distributions should occur, preventing potential disputes among beneficiaries and how to avoid tax consequences.
What are some sad tales we have seen?
- The significant other girlfriend who lived with her boyfriend and raised children together but never legally married now having to pay over 1/3 of the estate in taxes because he wrote a will leaving everything to her when a trust would have saved the taxes.
- The grandparents who racked up legal fees over who should be the guardian of the children when both parents were killed in a car accident
- The adult child who inherited their mother’s bonds but did not know they had to now pay taxes on them and then got hit with penalties and interest.
Dying without a Will can cast a long shadow on your family’s future. By taking the proactive step of creating an estate plan, you can ensure financial security, timely asset distribution, and peace of mind for your loved ones. Contact us for a free strategy session on how we can help you leave a legacy and let your loved ones deal with their grief and not the anxiety of probate. Contact the Tomes Law Firm Estate lawyers at 732-333-0681.