Talking about death can be difficult for most people. However, one thing is certain: it is going to happen, and someone else is going to get your property. "If you do not have an estate plan, the courts or someone else is going to decide what happens to your property," said Nellie Lamers, family financial education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Houston (MO) Herald's recently published article, "Establish an estate plan before death comes knocking," says that one more reason to have an estate plan is to decide how to handle the care for your minor children if you and your spouse both pass away. You need to talk to an experienced estate planning attorney about the guardianship laws in your state and how you should set up a plan for this situation.
It is easy to put off these tough decisions by thinking we have plenty of time, but the truth is that we really don't know how much time we're going to have.
It's also easy for disagreements and misunderstandings to occur when someone passes away, particularly when the ownership of assets isn't clear. A professionally drafted will and other estate planning documents can eliminate much of this stress and heartache. The cost of settling an estate may be high, but it's even higher if an estate plan isn't in place.
If you make a plan, let your family know about it and get it in writing. If you do this, you can help avoid a lot of stress and misunderstandings.
The first step is to take an inventory of everything you own and your debts to create a net worth statement. You should think about estate asset transfer methods, including, right of survivorship for title, non-probate transfers, wills, trusts, and gifts. Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to review all of this.
The main enemy of estate planning is procrastination. Start working on your plan right now!
Reference: Houston (MO) Herald (October 10, 2015) "Establish an estate plan before death comes knocking"