With all types of uncertainty surrounding us in these trying times, there is one thing that has been certain, remains certain, and will always be certain – our death. Instead of avoiding it and putting off planning for it, as so many do, it is time we confront this harsh reality and place our family in the best position to mourn and grieve our death, without having to make difficult decisions during an already stressful time. This is just one of the many benefits of estate planning.
A lesser thought-about benefit is that by preparing estate planning documents in advance, your family may be able to avoid the infamous “probate process”. Rightfully earning its bad reputation, the probate process is lengthy, costly, and can be emotionally demanding.
While the average probate process is time-consuming by nature, family arguments over who gets what can transform it into a nightmare that lasts for years. To use a well-known example, the famous singer Aretha Franklin died intestate (without a Will) in August of 2018. More than two years since her death, the probate process is still pending, with little to no end in sight. Planning in advance can help resolve future family discussions and disagreements, by making your intentions clear ahead of time via a Will or Trust.
Estate planning is not limited to only after death. There are many other documents which individuals should have in place while they are alive. For example: A Power of Attorney can be used to designate an individual to make financial decisions; a Health Care Surrogate can express wishes regarding who will make medical decisions; and a Living Will can establish directives dealing with a terminal illness or an end-stage condition. All of these items can help your family navigate through a trying time.
Even though estate planning may seem complicated and burdensome, no one wants their family to be left to carry the burden long after an individual has passed away. Luckily, there are attorneys who practice in the area of estate planning, who can help your family get ready for life’s most challenging moments.