Monday, March 7, 2011

The Importance of Estate Planning

For various reasons, it is common for individuals to put off creating their will and other estate planning documents.  Many believe that they do not have sufficient assets to warrant the creation of a will, that enlisting the help of an attorney is simply too expensive or that planning for one's death is an unpleasant topic that they wish to avoid.  However, there are numerous pressing reasons why estate planning should be made a priority in one's life.  

If an individual passes without a will, which is known as dying "intestate," the laws of the state in which the individual resided will govern the disposition of their assets.  These laws determine to whom the assets will be dispersed and in what amounts, and also who will care for minor children.  Additionally, when one passes with or without a will, the matter will enter into probate.  Probate is a significantly more efficient process with an estate plan.  Without such a plan, probate can become extremely expensive and drain the assets of one's estate.  Even without substantial assets, creating an estate plan is of upmost importance.  This is especially true of individuals leaving behind minor children as they would prefer to choose their guardian and avoid any potential custody disputes.

Along with a will, there are other documents that are vital even in a simple estate plan such as a general power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney.  These documents give others the legal authority to act on one's behalf in various situations such as in the event he or she is unable of making decisions due to some sort of incapacity. 

Creating an estate plan does not have to be an overly expensive or time consuming process and can avoid significant complications and costs down the road.   For more information about creating an estate plan please contact an attorney.