Let’s face it, when that ‘nagging little voice’ in the back of your mind suggests that you might want to ‘get your affairs in order’ by designing and implementing an appropriate estate plan — a common pushback to this entirely sensible thought is that the effort is simply a ‘waste of time.’ Well, let’s examine that thought. You are probably correct if you are assured that:
(a) state laws designed by legislators will be a perfectly fine “plan” for your family;
(b) your heirs (typically children) will peacefully co-exist and get along perfectly when it comes time to divide assets, deal with co-ownership of real property, dividing personal effects, etc.;
(c) your heirs will never experience a “bump in the road” (divorce, lawsuit, etc.) during their remaining lifetimes;
(d) estate tax and income laws will not change in the future;
(e) the right ‘helper’ will volunteer to wind up your affairs upon your passing (file final tax returns, clear up and pay valid debts, collect and gain control of assets, etc.);
(f) in the event of your incapacity, the right ‘helper’ will step forward (unfortunately, with an attorney required) to have a Court arm them legal capacity to act for you as your guardian; and
(g) your family will be able to find an attorney to take them through the probate process in a cost and time efficient manner . . .
If you believe that the above are true, you certainly won’t understand or appreciate the need for a thoughtfully and carefully designed plan to assure that you will be properly taken care of by the persons you trust to ‘do the job’ and that all of the assets that you have worked your life to build and accumulate will pass to those you love in the way that you intend and in a way that protects them from life’s uncertainties.
For those who understand and appreciate the uncertainties of life, the desire to have an orderly and thoughtful plan for the transfer of wealth, the desire to have the proper helpers in place armed with the legal tools to allow them to help in a cost and time efficient manner – the planning effort is most certainly NOT a waste of time, and completing the process provides “peace of mind” for the entire family. The planning effort does not have to be time consuming or expensive – there are many planning options and “paths” that available to achieve planning goals and objectives. The only way to learn and to understand what path is right for you and your family is to start the process with a qualified estate planning professional.