Nowadays, most people associate estate planning with only the rich and wealthy. However, estate planning can benefit many families, no matter their income level. Furthermore, the earlier you have made these important plans the better, because it will allow you the peace of mind of knowing that your affairs are in order.
The sad fact of the matter is that many people die without a will, which can lead to many problems. If you die intestate (without a will), it will result in your estate going into probate, which can be a very time-consuming and costly process. If you happen to have children, the courts will also decide who gets to care for them.
In the end, it means that if you have an unmarried partner or a charity you would like to give money too and no will, then it's more than likely your assets will not go to them. In most cases, the courts follow the law and pass the assets down to the closest living blood relatives, regardless of your actual wishes.
Everyone should take the time to determine exactly what they need in regards to estate planning. If you have substantial assets or children, you need to do this sooner rather than later. This ensures that you have the proper documentation in place, and have taken the necessary steps to protect the future of your family. It allows you to have important discussions with people who would be tasked with major decisions under your will or trusts, which can help alleviate issues later down the line. ,
As people grow and life happens - people die and assets change - sometimes an update to the estate plan is required. This is often overlooked by most people and can have drastic consequences if the person dies. Taking the time to make sure your estate plan is current is an essential part of estate planning, so, if you have not made changes to your plan recently, you may want to check and make sure that things can still be carried out according to your wishes.
If you have questions about your specific situation, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney to determine what you need to do in your case. Whether you are just starting out in the estate planning process or need help with probate, your attorney can offer you practical advice that you can use to ensure that things are carried out properly.