Too many people are left guessing as to their loved one’s final wishes once they have passed. This can lead to disagreements and burden the family with decisions and unnecessary expenses because an estate plan was not put in place. Only one out of three Americans have established an estate plan. To avoid passing intestate (without a will), create or update your estate plan. This will help your family avoid many disagreements and issues. As a result, your passing will be a time of remembrance rather than conflict.
Over 221 million Americans, or 67.1% of the population, die intestate.
What It Means to Be Intestate
Passing intestate means to die without a will or an estate plan in place. If you pass intestate, the court system will decide who will administer your estate and choose your beneficiaries. Only in rare cases does the state get your assets. If you have a will, whoever is assigned as a personal representative will become appointed by the courts upon acceptance through the Probate process. If you don’t want your state to decide how your wealth is handled, consider drafting a will.
How to Get Started
There are a few reasons why many people fail to create an estate plan. The most common are, “I haven’t gotten around to it,” “I don’t have enough assets to leave anyone,” “It costs too much,” or “I don’t know where to go to get a will.” The most challenging part about creating your estate plan is thinking through a series of what-if questions. Your financial planner, along with an experienced estate planning attorney, can make your estate plan seem like a family love letter rather than a stack of legal instruments. If you don’t have a will or haven’t reviewed your estate plan in many years – please immediately reach out to an attorney or your financial advisor.
Use this holiday season to talk about it with your loved ones. You may find yourself cherishing the warm holiday moments even more knowing your legacy will be felt for generations.
Shawn J. McCabe | MBA, CFP®