There are a number of reasons why every adult should have an estate plan, and we have discussed many of these reasons in previous posts on this blog. Broadly speaking, an estate plan gives you control over your care and the distribution of your assets.
However, if you still are not convinced that an estate plan can benefit you and your loved ones, it could be helpful to understand what happens if you do not have certain critical elements of an estate plan in place.
Without a will
People who pass away without a will leave critical decisions, like those involving assets, in the hands of the court. The courts will divide your property among your relatives in accordance with state laws. This means estranged family members might receive your property instead of a charitable organization or other person whom you might have preferred.
Without a living will
Without a living will that defines your wishes for medical care and decisions regarding treatment options and organ donation, such decisions will have to be made by your loved ones. This can lead to contentious disputes that threaten or even sever relationships. It can also put people in the very stressful position of having to guess what you might have wanted.
Without assigning power of attorney
If you become incapacitated, someone will need to manage your financial and medical needs on your behalf. Unless you assign powers of attorney, decisions about everything from buying and selling your property to where you receive treatment will be in the hands of someone appointed by the courts. Further, it can create familial conflict when and if your loved ones argue over who is making decisions and whether the decisions are in your best interests.
Having a plan and legal guidance
You do not have to go without the protections of a basic estate plan; perhaps more importantly, you do not have to leave your loved ones without the answers and guidance established in an estate plan. You can consult an attorney who can guide you through the legal process of protecting yourself, your family and your wishes.