Now that May is here, you might be checking in with those New Year’s resolutions you made in January to see if you’re on track. We’d like to suggest adding another item to your list: resolve to plan your estate in 2013.
Sadly, the majority of U S residents currently have no plan in place, choosing instead to rely on the wisdom of the courts to settle their estates after they’re gone. This might sound like a good plan in theory – after all, the courts will divide your estate among your family members and unless you have a considerable amount of assets, this kind of court-directed division should be pretty fair…. right?
Unfortunately, how the courts see your estate isn’t always in the best interest of your loved ones. Creditors are taken care of first and the cost of probate can wreak havoc on your family’s inheritance. There’s also the possibility that family members will fight over assets, creating a rift that may never quite heal and in the event that you become incapacitated before your death, there’s no guarantee that your family will make decisions about financial issues and your medical care in accordance with your wishes. Then there are the time delays of settling an estate through the court system. No one likes that.
Also remember that the tax laws do change from time to time, so it’s possible that how your estate would be divided today is not the reality your family will face down the road.
To make sure your loved ones are fully protected, consult with an estate planning attorney now and create an estate plan that meets your individual needs.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday