Recently, my family and I watched the movie “Marley & Me.” For those who haven’t seen this movie, Marley is the family dog that near the end of the movie dies. My two daughters didn’t particularly enjoy the end because the beloved family dog died. After the movie, my daughters realized, “Hey! If our dog can die, then so could Mom and Dad!”
My kids are right. However, many of us – many with children who depend on us – don’t have an estate plan, including those in Cincinnati. If you’ve read my posts in the past, you know I have discussed various reasons for not having a plan, including the perceived high expense, feeling too young or too poor, or just not knowing what an estate plan is.
Are attorneys and other advisors making too big a deal over this? Well, if you think you don’t need any estate planning, you may agree with the following points:
- Probate – To settle your estate, you want your spouse, parents or children to go through a long, expensive process that is potentially run by someone you never knew.
- Intestacy –You aren’t fazed by this term for dying without a will, which means the state will decide who gets your property and your loved ones may argue for years over your various personal items.
- Inheritance – You accept the idea that your surviving spouse could remarry, die, and leave all your assets to that unknown next spouse rather than to your kids or family.
- Guardianship –You would rather have the state decide who ends up caring for your minor children or your personal affairs should you become incompetent.
- Incapacity — If you become incapacitated, you want your family to go to court and potentially watch some outsider (instead of a spouse, close relative or friend) appointed to take care of your financial and health decisions.
- Life Prolonging Procedures — You accept the notion of doctors deciding to keep you alive (and drain your family assets) for years without knowing your wishes.
- Taxes — You want your assets to go to the government for taxes and fees, rather than to your family for their needs.
If you agree with all of these statements, then perhaps you are right. You do not need an estate plan. However, if you are uneasy with one or more of these, then it is time to take action and make plans for you and your loved ones. Getting the help you need from an experienced professional is the best way to assure your loved ones will not have to face some very unpleasant realities.
If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, see my estate planning website or contact Cincinnati attorney David H. Lefton at 513-399-PLAN (7526) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.