If you should pass away, who will get your house, assets, life savings, or collection of antique clocks you love so much? If you are like the half of Americans over 55 years of age, you might not have an answer to this question. Or, perhaps you have an idea, but never put too much thought into it. Regardless, what is true in this situation is that you lack a legally binding will that could distribute your assets as you wish.
As an estate planning lawyer in Sacramento, CA, we often find that its not actually about wealth or income, but rather the desire to ignore the sensitive subject of dying. Even people who are considerably well off may need to be nudged by their legal advocates, family members, or friends, to take the necessary steps to ensure all of their affairs are in order.
Why Do So Many People Fail to Have a Will?
The subject of death, or even incapacitation, is one that most people would rather avoid. On the other hand, as an estate planning lawyer would know, it is also common for people to not wish to deal with other stumbling blocks. For example, some parents are unable to come to an agreement on who should be named guardian of the children. Others may feel uneasy about distributing their assets in a fair way to their children. Finally, there are people who recoil at the cost of drafting a will or estate plan. Our firm even knows of cases in which a person began to draft a will, with or without an estate planning lawyer, but never actually completed the process. In this situation, the will was not signed; therefore, was not valid. As a result, the entire estate was probated through intestate succession; something that often takes years to complete.
Is Planning an Estate Expensive?
At first glance, one might feel that planning their estate with the help of an estate planning lawyer is too expensive. However, this is a misconception. By sitting down with an estate planning lawyer and discussing all of the small details, you not only save copious amounts of time, but you ensure everything is done correctly. Furthermore, a good lawyer may be able to draft the estate documents in such a way that they save you or your beneficiaries from having to pay high taxes or court fees. A ballpark range of a package that may include a will, power of attorney, and a living will that includes end of life decisions may cost around $5,000. Of course, this price could be more or less depending on the area, your needs, and the estate planning law firm you choose to work with.
Do You Really Need a Will?
At Yee Law Group, we find that most people don’t understand the full implications of dying without a will or estate plan. When this happens the estate will be forced into intestate succession. Basically, this means the state will get involved and name someone they believe to be a suitable executor of the estate. All assets will be accounted for and appraised. All debts will be identified and creditors will be notified. Taxes must be paid followed by debts in an order of most important to least important. Only after all of these things are taken care of will the remaining assets be distributed. How they are distributed will depend on the laws of the state. Let us say that you would like your daughter to have your antique collection and your son to have your veterans medals. If you did not include this in a will, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be upheld by the court. Furthermore, it is certainly possible for a “long lost child” to make a claim on the estate. A situation like this can cause a great deal of stress and money, as well as, huge amounts of time – and it could be avoided.
Stop Procrastinating and Take Action Today!
Realistically, you never know what might happen in the future. The best thing you could do for any of your loved ones is to have a plan in place and know that all of your wishes will be carried out in the way you intend. To learn more about drafting a will, trust, or estate plan, call the estate planning lawyers from Yee Law Group.