In a 2016 Gallup Study, only 44% of adults reported having a Will or Trust in place to direct what will happen with their estate after they pass away. For the other 66% of American adults who do not have a Will or Trust, there are many possible reasons for this including: people thinking that drafting an estate plan will cost too much money; being too busy with everyday life; or thinking that they either do not have anything worth leaving to their families or that their families will know what to do with their things after they pass away.
Similarly, even for the 44% of adults who report having a Will or Trust, a majority of those individuals admitted that their estate planning documents have not been updated in the last five years. Even more troubling, most adult children are unaware if their parents even have an estate plan and would be unable to find such documents if they did exist.
Both those without an estate plan and those with an out-of-date estate plan are exposed to serious potential troubles down the line unless they have attorneys draft their estate plan or update their currently out-of-date estate plan. Regardless of the many reasons to put it off, creating or updating your estate plan is a very important task for everyone to do. The dedicated team of experienced estate planning attorneys at Gilbert Law can help you plan ahead and help you create or update your estate plan without stress or a large price tag.
Furthermore, the number of reasons to create or update your estate plan far outnumber the reasons to continue to put it off, including:
- Giving You & Your Loved Ones Peace of Mind
First and foremost, having an estate plan in place gives you and your loved ones a peace of mind knowing that your property, money, and more importantly your children, are taken care of according to your wishes. Wills and Trusts ensure that your wishes are carried out legally and efficiently. A Will or Trust allows you to clearly articulate how you wish for your property to be divided, your designation for a personal representative to carry out your wishes as provided in your Will or Trust, and ultimately makes the probate process easier and less expensive for your family and loved ones after you have passed away.
- Ensuring Your Children Are Cared for By Someone of Your Choice
Of the most importance, having a Will in place allows you to name a legal guardian for your children if you were to unexpectedly die. Even if you do not have a large amount of money or valuable possessions, if you were to die without having a will in place, the legal system will appoint a guardian to care for your children whom you would not like to care for your children. Deciding who to appoint as guardian of your children and ultimately acting as a child’s guardian is a huge responsibility that should not be taking lightly. You should choose a guardian as if you are selecting a parent for your child. By having a Will in place, you can ensure that the right person will be your children’s guardian if necessary instead of leaving it to chance in the legal system.
- Protecting Your Blended Family
Additionally, having a proper Will and Trust in place ensures that you can protect your blended family. As divorces become increasingly common in today’s world, more and more people now have blended families as a result. However, if you have step-children that you would like to inherit from your estate, unless your will or trust specifically identifies them and explicitly includes them, they could be left out from an inheritance. Alternatively, if you remarry after having children, if you die before your new spouse, without a proper Will and Trust in place, it is possible that your new spouse could receive all of your assets, and then they could decide to leave it all to someone else when he or she dies instead of to your children. As a result, your children from a previous relationship could be excluded and ultimately never receive an inheritance from you.
By having a proper Will or Trust in place that accounts for your unique family situation, you can ensure that everyone in your blended family is properly accounted for and protected.
- Providing You an Opportunity to Give to Charity
Having a Will or Trust also provides you an opportunity to give to your favorite charity as part of your estate plan. Without a Will or Trust that explicitly accounts for providing a portion of your estate to a designated charity of your choice, nothing from your estate can pass onto them after you pass away. By having a Will or Trust in place, you can ensure that you can leave a lasting legacy and impact your larger community.
- Avoiding Unnecessary Fights in Court
Finally, having a proper Will and Trust in place before you die can help avoid unnecessary fights in probate court among your loved ones after you pass away. Unnecessary fighting among family members in probate court over your estate not only is likely to result in expensive attorneys’ fees and court costs for your love ones, but also usually results in unnecessary stress and a lasting discord that can ruin families. Having a Will or Trust in place that is drafted by an experienced estate planning attorney can help limit such needless litigation and help ensure your family’s future emotional and financial well-being.
The reality is that planning for and drafting your estate documents in advance goes a long way to making things easier for everyone, regardless of age or income. It is never too early to start getting your ducks in a row and is something that will give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed and that a burden from your family will be lifted.
The attorneys of Gilbert Law have over 10 years of combined experience of helping blended families meet their estate planning needs. Contact us or call our office today at (651) 340-9642 to schedule an appointment to discuss your estate planning needs or click here to register to attend Gilbert Law’s Estate Planning Workshop on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, to receive a discount on drafting your estate planning documents.
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT ESTATE PLANNING CASES CAN BE VERY COMPLEX AND ARE UNIQUE TO YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION. THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR A LEGAL OPINION. YOU SHOULD NOT CONSTRUE ANY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE AS LEGAL ADVICE OR A LEGAL OPINION IN YOUR CASE. FURTHERMORE, READING THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A CLIENT OF GILBERT LAW PLLC. AN ATTORNEY SHOULD BE CONTACTED FOR ADVICE ON SPECIFIC LEGAL ISSUES. NO ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN IN RELIANCE ON THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE AND/OR ITS WEBSITE, AND GILBERT LAW PLLC DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY IN RESPECT TO ACTIONS TAKEN OR NOT TAKEN BASED ON ANY OR ALL OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS ARTICLE AND/OR ITS WEBSITE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.