You have probably heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This adage rings especially true when it comes to estate planning. Dying without a will or trust, known as intestacy, leaves your estate in a precarious situation.
Let’s unpack the dangers you expose your loved ones to if you don’t make a will or trust.
Lose Control Over Asset Distributions
When you die intestate, state laws take over to distribute your assets. These laws don’t consider your personal preferences or family dynamics. So, if you were going to leave assets to a neighbor’s child with special needs or a trusted friend, those wishes wouldn’t matter. State laws prioritize spouses and other biological relatives, leaving no room for individual discretion.
Prolong the Probate Process
Dying intestate inevitably means a longer and more complicated probate process. Your estate will spend more time tangled in legal procedures, delaying the disbursement of assets to your heirs. Additionally, the longer probate process increases the costs involved, eating into the estate’s value.
Risk Family Discord
When there’s no will to clarify your intentions, family members may dispute how your estate should be divided. Such conflicts can lead to lengthy court battles, not to mention permanent damage to family relationships.
Complicate Guardianship for Minor Children
If you have minor children, dying without a will complicates their guardianship. The court will appoint a guardian without your input. This could lead to an individual you wouldn’t have chosen yourself taking care of your children.
Exclude Unmarried Partners and Non-Biological Family Members
Unmarried partners and stepchildren usually get nothing if you die intestate, as most intestacy laws only recognize legal spouses and biological relatives. If you’re part of an unconventional family structure, leaving behind a will is not just advisable – it’s essential.
Overlooking the Small Stuff
People often forget that it’s not just big-ticket items like homes and investment portfolios that matter. A will can specify who gets personal belongings that may have sentimental value. Without a will, these decisions are left to state laws and could result in unsatisfying outcomes.
Don’t Let the Court Decide
Remember, if you don’t make a will, the state makes one for you, and it likely won’t align with your wishes. Courts operate under legal obligations and don’t consider the emotional aspects of your family life.
Intestacy is a risky business that can put your family through unnecessary hardship. From longer probate processes and family disputes to unfair asset distribution and missed opportunities, the dangers are numerous.
Be proactive and take control of how you want your estate to be handled. Consult an estate planning attorney today to secure your family’s future. Remember, failing to plan can be disastrous, but it’s a mistake you have the power to avoid.
Learn More About Estate Planning Mistakes!
A complete failure to plan is definitely a colossal estate planning mistake, but there are many others. So many in fact, we have compiled a series of videos that cover all of these different missteps that can have a negative impact on your family.
This is a simple and convenient way to gain some very important knowledge, and these videos are available free of charge. Simply visit our Phoenix, AZ estate planning video page to access the material.
Need Help Now?
If you are here because you are ready to engage a lawyer to put a plan in place, you’re making the ideal connection. We know that it can be hard to share personal information with someone you just met, but you’ll find that we have the ability to make people feel comfortable from the start.
Since there are different ways to proceed, the right approach will depend on the circumstances. Personalized attention is key to proper planning, and this is what you will receive when you choose our firm.
You can schedule a consultation appointment right now if you call us at 888-222-1328, and you can use our contact form to send us a message.
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