- Why estate planning is essential
- Risks faced if you die without a proper estate plan
- Which estate planning components may be right for you
Certain things like possessions and assets, theoretically, you could let go as to the way that the law prescribes when there isn’t a will as to how things are left to other people when you pass. But I ran into situations where parents may favor one child or the other for some reason, and the law is not going to recognize the difference. The law is not set up to do that job. If you choose to want to specify how your estate will be handled, you should take the time to do the will because that’s your opportunity to speak while you’re alive and prescribe what’s going to happen when you pass.
The other big piece of this comes down to things like your children. If you have children and you don’t have a will, there isn’t a capacity per se on the wall that just automatically says “The child goes to this person.” It’s not the function of the law, and it becomes the function of the court. And like anything else, if you had to go to court, you’re likely going to need representation, and generally speaking, there’s a cost associated with all of that. If you already know or you know how you would want your child cared for, set yourself up that part of your estate going to go to dealing with that wish.
In circumstances where there are two families tied together in a marriage and both families, somehow, those things have to be addressed. And again, from my perspective, the child is the one that loses because not only have they lost the parents, now they’re stuck in an endless quagmire and the argument between two families.
Those are the main reasons that if I even want to contemplate doing estate planning for a will, that’s why I wouldn’t do it. The cost investment for wills and all of this is not substantial, and is significantly less than if for instance you had a child and you didn’t have a will, and the court had to be involved through identifying the guardian and trustee of the child.
The Various Documents That Are Right For Your Situation
The necessary documents depend on the client. A lot of my clients typically were not liquid, so I think there are certainly folks out there who have needs that need more structure than what a will may provide, but even within the will, if you’re leaving decent sums of money to your children upon your death, you can provide for how those moneys are released to the children. You’re basically forming a trust out of the will, and I think that that type of an approach helps people carry a lot of the circumstances that they’re going to encounter.
There are issues such as if you have a business, how does the business continue. Some of that isn’t necessarily a will function. It may not even be a trust function, but it may be more in how you set up the company, and how your corporate documents account for different changes and ownership and management. But those are all things that I encourage people to think about. If they want to actually get me involved to help them work through some of those things, those are things I could do. If you’re naming a beneficiary or a contingent beneficiary that is not of the age of majority or under 18, you need to account for that, and you should definitely make sure that the language that you write for somebody who would be under 18 but yet be named as a beneficiary, you want to make sure that you use the proper language in trust to affect the outcome that you want. If you name a minor as a beneficiary and something happens earlier in your life than you wouldn’t have expected, you wind up back in court trying to address the new issue that has been posed.
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