If you’re like many people, you haven’t given much thought to your final days and what happens to your assets after you die. It isn’t pleasant to think about, but aging and death are inevitable. Estate planning is essential if you want to avoid causing conflicts for yourself and your heirs.
Fights Over End-of-Life Care
A terminal illness or critical accident can happen at any time, and if you haven’t made your wishes clear, your loved ones could be left with tough decisions to make. When a patient isn’t able to contribute to their care, it’s the next of kin who must decide things like whether life support should be discontinued. These are heart-wrenching situations that can cause bitter conflicts among your loved ones, but you can avoid putting such a burden on them by putting your wishes for end-of-life care in writing. With an attorney, you should draw up a living will, or advance directive, that specifies exactly what care you want and don’t want.
Lengthy Court Battles
After your death, your property will come under the supervision of a probate court, which will determine the legal process of dividing your estate among your heirs. If you die without a will, the process of deciding who should get what can be lengthy and can cause legal battles among those who think they should inherit. Estate planning, including a clear will and trust, can help your heirs avoid the problems. A trust transfers your assets to a trusted person or trustee, who will handle them according to your wishes. A probate court will interpret your will if you don’t have a trust in place.
Running Out of Money
It is possible for your estate to run out of money before your heirs inherit anything. This happens when your debts are greater than your assets. If the estate runs out of money before all debts are paid, it is declared as insolvent, and your heirs will get nothing. Estate planning can help avoid insolvency. Setting up trusts is one way, but it must be done according to law. Living trusts can be set up before you die and do not have to go through probate.
The time to plan your estate is now. Life can change in a second, and you want to be prepared. You can protect your loved ones financially and from the possibility of legal and emotional turmoil.
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