No one likes to talk about probate or estate planning. It is not as fun as retirement.
Probate, of course, is a process that means that someone has died. We humans don’t like to think about the fact that we can die. In fact, we tend to avoid it wherever possible. That’s probably for the best, as if we focused on the only other inevitability in life except for taxes, we’d probably be driven to distraction by it.
However, completely avoiding discussion of probate and estate planning isn’t a good idea. It can result in extremely problematic situations. It causes disputes over wills, confusion as to who is able to inherit what, and a huge amount of distress for the people that we leave behind. Ultimately, going through the process of probate and estate planning is one of the kindest things we can do for our families. It helps to ensure they are provided for when we’re no longer around.
So, in terms of preparedness, probate is perhaps the biggest bridge we have to cross. But it is one that is well worth crossing. If you have not thought much about plans for your finances and estate when you pass, then here’s a beginner’s guide to getting started.
The Ultimate Preparation: Wills, Estate Planning, and Talking To Family
Dying without a will…
… is known as dying intestate. This tends to create a number of difficult circumstances that have to be addressed by your loved ones.
In most jurisdictions, if you pass without a formal will, then your assets will automatically transfer to your spouse or your children. It’s worth checking with your local government the exact default circumstances when you die intestate. This is true especially if you’re not sure that you can face up to going through the estate planning process. It may be that you’re happy enough with the default for your region, in which case, you can go without a will.
However, this is inadvisable
Even if you are satisfied with the relevant laws in your area, there’s no guarantee that your family will be. Sadly, disputes can and do happen. So you need to be aware of this potential risk. Not having a formal will in place makes it all the more likely your loved ones will have to go through a painful probate process when you’re gone.
While it may be upsetting for you to consider, it’s usually best to consult with an estate planning attorney rather than relying on the intestate laws in your region. A good attorney will be able to both advise you on the correct course of action for your finances as well as go through the process of creating a will with you should you choose this course of action.
Talk to everyone about your decision
Finally, it’s always best to tell your family what your decisions are regarding your estate. This gives you a chance to deal with any disputes as well as you possibly can. It will also address potential concerns your relatives have. A frank, open discussion about your decisions regarding your assets is by far the healthiest way of ensuring everyone is aware of, and at least content with, your decisions.
Going through the process of establishing the above is never a pleasant experience, but it is an important one. Estate planning is important for both you and your family upon your death. After all, isn’t it better to be prepared?
Do you have your estate planned with a detailed will? Get started today.