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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Here are 3 Reasons Why You Need at Least a Last Will and Testament

Did you know that only about forty percent of Americans have an estate plan? This may be the result of the misconception that estate planning is only for the old or the wealthy. It may also be due to not making estate planning a priority on a to-do list. Did you know, however, that without an estate plan, your estate may be headed to probate court, a costly and time-consuming process? Let us discuss three reasons why you may need at least a Last Will and Testament. 

1. Saves money. Without at least a Last Will and Testament, it may be necessary for someone such as a family member to begin a probate proceeding to distribute your estate, which will likely involve the hiring of an attorney and costly court fees. If the family members do not agree with the proposed distribution of assets, a lengthy and costly court battle may ensue. Often, more money can be expended in probate proceedings than would have been had an estate planning attorney been hired upfront to create your planning documents. 

2. Without a Last Will and Testament, the court may decide who gets what. While you may believe that you do not possess enough assets to warrant the creation of a Last Will and Testament, you may still have assets to pass on, such as your home, cars, bank accounts, any jewelry, and family heirlooms. None of these things can simply be distributed following your passing. While a Last Will and Testament must still go through the probate process, at a minimum, it can set forth your wishes in writing, which can help prevent family members from fighting over items. This can streamline the process, and the court will likely uphold your wishes, so long as no issues of decreased mental capacity at the time of creation are evident or any other issues arise. This can save your family time and money and, hopefully, keep the peace among family members. Utilizing an estate planning attorney to create a trust can be another option and a wise step to bypass the probate process entirely, helping to assure your assets will be distributed, as you have directed in the trust.

3. Without a Last Will and Testament, the court will likely designate the guardian of your children. Although most of us think of a Last Will and Testament in terms of assets, if you are the parents of minor children, you can designate who will become the guardian of your minor children, should you and your spouse pass unexpectedly. Otherwise, this determination will likely be made by the court, which may be very difficult for your children, should they be appointed a guardian they do not know well or be forced to change schools. In the worst-case scenario, your children could end up in foster care. Creating a trust is also an excellent option for providing for your children, should something happen to you. 

Meeting with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss your planning needs will offer peace of mind to your loved ones after your passing. Our office is available to assist you in navigating the estate planning process. Please reach out to us today to schedule an appointment.


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