You’ve spent your entire adult life working to care for your loved ones. Unless you have an estate plan in place, however, that hard work may not protect them if something happens to you. Without an estate plan, your hard-earned assets may be needlessly wasted in the probate process or in taxes instead of passing to your family.
Who needs an estate plan? Anyone who wants a say in how decision-making should be handled if they die or become disabled. Anyone with a spouse or children or other family they love. In short, everyone. Our Rochester MI estate planning attorneys know how to tailor the plan just for oyu.
Of course, much more is at stake than money. Unless you make arrangements in advance, your most important and personal life decisions will be in the hands of a judge who has never met you. Here are some of the most common dangers of failing to make an estate plan:
For parents of minor children: If you have no estate plan, a judge will decide not only who cares for your children, but who controls their property and money. This can play out in disastrous ways, such as children being placed with a relative who is closely related by blood, but who is irresponsible or abusive. Another common scenario is for children to be placed with grandparents who love them but are too elderly or ill to provide the best care. If you are pregnant or have small children, you must talk to an estate planning attorney so that their futures can be made secure.
For small business owners: If you have built a business, attending to every detail that makes it successful has likely been your life’s work. Without proper succession planning, your business may fall into hands that are ill-equipped to manage it. The business could fail, and its assets might be sold off at a loss. Your effort to build something that could sustain your love ones would vanish into thin air, along with their security.
For people who want to leave property to someone who is not related to them: If you are not legally married to your significant other, or you want a portion of your estate to go to a favorite charity instead of your spendthrift brother, an estate plan is the only way to guarantee that happens. Even if you’ve lived with a partner for fifty years, without an estate plan, the assets you want your partner to have could go to a biological relative from whom you’ve been estranged for decades.
For people who want their assets to go to their loved ones, not the government: One reason people give for putting off estate planning is the anticipated expense. Most of the time, however, the expense of estate planning is less than people expect. It is also almost always more than recouped by the savings in estate taxes and probate costs paid by the estates of people without an estate plan.
For people who want control of their own medical decisions: If you do not have an advance healthcare directive specifying what measures you want taken in the event of your incapacity, your loved ones will be burdened with trying to figure out your wishes, at a time when they are already stressed by the severity of your medical condition. If they can’t agree, a court might have to step in. Imagine the headline-making healthcare cases of recent years. Then imagine the heartache, expense and litigation that could have been avoided had those people had advance directives.
For people who value family harmony: If you die without an estate plan, your family is left to decide how you wanted to dispose of your assets–and they may not agree. Sadly, even many close-knit families have been torn apart by squabbling and hurt feelings over dad’s or grandma’s estate. Even more important than the assets you preserve for your loved ones by making an estate plan is the family harmony you preserve by doing so.
When do you need an estate plan? The answer is simple: now. No one plans to be the victim of accident or illness, but we all know that they can strike at any time. Don’t risk burdening your loved ones with worries about their future when you hold the power to lift that worry from their shoulders.
A well-crafted estate plan assures that your wishes will be honored and your loved ones will be cared for. Our firm offers convenient meetings with an attorney at our office or your home to thoroughly explore your estate-planning needs. We take pride in customizing an estate plan just for you based on a thorough analysis of your personal, family, and financial situation. And as your life circumstances change, our Bloomfield Hills, MI estate planning attorneys will be there to work with you to review and update your plan to reflect your current needs.
Please also review our Estate Planning F.A.Q.