Most people in Maryland would agree that planning for the future is a good thing. When you get in your car and take a short drive, chances are you’re not going to get into an accident. Yet, you likely have insurance just in case such an event happens. So, why is it that, when it comes to planning for an inevitable event like death, people tend to put it off and procrastinate?
People put off estate planning for a multitude of reasons. Estate planning usually involves contemplating and talking about your own death, which is not a topic that is easy for many people to discuss. Your mind may come up with all sorts of rationalizations, and you may think you are too young or that your family will know what to do if you pass away. Here are a few reasons why you should begin the estate planning process sooner rather than later.
If you die without a plan in place, your family will have to go through a court process known as probate. Probate is basically a formal legal proceeding for settling one’s estate and is a costly, lengthy and public process. Depending on your situation, the probate process can take many months to complete and would be incredibly expensive for your family members. For many people, helping loved ones avoid the nightmare of probate is reason enough to have an estate plan.
Controlling who gets what
If you were to die with no plan in place, the laws in your state of residence will determine who will get your assets and possessions, giving your spouse and children top priority. If you’re married and have children, you may think things would go smoothly, but that’s far from true. For example, if you are married and have kids from a previous relationship, the court could leave your children out and grant everything to your spouse. A proper estate plan will allow you to control where your assets and possessions will go when you die.
If you become incapacitated
Many people think estate planning only pertains to death, but that is not the case. If you were to become incapacitated without a plan in place, your family members may have to file a petition with the court to legally appoint someone to manage your affairs. Again, this can be a costly and time-consuming process. With an appropriate estate plan, you can grant the person(s) of your choice the authority to make important decisions for you in the case of your incapacitation.
Help is available
No person knows what will happen in the future. You could have many years left to live or you could die tomorrow. When it comes to estate planning, it can be dangerous to put it off and assume that you will be able to do it later. Fortunately, there is professional help readily available if you have questions or want to know more about creating a plan to fit the needs of your family.