If no estate planning has been done, the court will have to be involved. In the event the someone becomes incapacitated, the family will have to petition the court to appoint a person to make financial decisions on the client’s behalf. The court will also have to appoint an individual to make medical decisions for them. Because they are incapacitated, he or she will have no way of communicating who he or she would like in those roles. The judge will have to make a determination based on investigations and the testimony of the interested parties in a very public proceeding–which may or may not reflect your their actual wishes.

 If someone dies without an estate plan, their property and financial assets will be distributed through the probate process to his or her family based upon the state’s intestacy statute. In many cases, this distribution scheme is contrary to what the client would have wanted. In addition, the probate process can be time-consuming, expensive, and public.

Probate may also be required if they have a will or if they have a trust that was not completely “funded” (assets were not properly transferred to the trust or retitled in the name of the trust). The only difference is that the will determines who receives the assets rather than state law.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you and your family members create an estate plan tailored to meet each of your unique needs and carry out your wishes—or help you update a pre-existing estate plan.  We can help each of you put a plan in place that will prevent unnecessary stress, legal expenses and taxes, uneven inheritances, disputes between family members, and delays in passing life savings on to loved ones. In addition, it will provide you and your family members with the peace of mind that comes with knowing there are plans in place for your care if any of you become ill and that your wishes will be honored once you pass away. Call us today to set up a meeting.