Procrastinators, beware. For many, the thought of executing an estate plan sounds too omnibus to consider. After all, most associate executing a Last Will and Testament with their mortality. What follows are some reasons you might want to get a move on things.
It just about goes without saying. While death is often associated with advanced age, life changes in the blink of an eye. And, preparing an estate plan doesn’t solely focus on death. There’s also the possibility that you could become incapacitated. Who will handle your affairs or make decisions concerning your medical care?
Parents of minor children or those who take care of someone with special needs also should sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney. Estate plans aren’t just about who gets what as far as dividing up property.
The bottom line is that without an estate plan in place, you circumvent a great many problems. Truth be told, you also take a position of control and authority over what you want to happen with the things that mean the most to you.
What Happens When You Don’t Have an Estate Plan?
First, let’s assume that you want to know what happens to your property if you don’t leave behind a will or set up a trust. A few factors matter when it comes to real property in particular.
If you own your home alone or share it as a tenant-in-common without the right of survivorship, the law says that the rules of intestacy matter when it comes to determining your heirs. Every state is different. In Tennessee, if you’re married and have no children, your surviving spouse inherits your property.
Meanwhile, the equation becomes more complicated if you do have children. And, if you never married and never had kids, it may be that your parents or siblings will become your heirs.
Your stomach might sink as you read this quickly. What if you’re not speaking with one of your children? Shouldn’t you be able to decide if your brother or sister inherit property when you die?
The answer? Of course, you should. And, that’s why you need to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.
The same is true if you have minor children or take care of someone with special needs. Don’t you want to be in charge of deciding for their care?
Lastly, if you’re unable to make decisions on your own, you want to make sure you select someone you can trust. You’ll want help on health care directives and living wills. You’ll also want to determine who should act on your behalf – by executing a power of attorney.