No matter your net worth, every one of us will face illness, death and taxes. All to commonly I hear people quip "I don't have much, so I don't need an estate plan!" If only they knew what I knew, their answer may be quite different. Estate planning is not solely an issue for those wishing to preserve a family fortune, it is for anyone who desires to take control of what happens when he or she falls ill and/or dies. Consider the following:
- A single women in her 20s dies from a prescription complication-- where will her wrongful death settlement go?
- An elderly man who never married suffers a stroke, leaving him unable to return to his condo and five year old cat -- where will the cat go?
- A women in her 40s who is partnered but not married, succumbs to the breast cancer she has fought for a decade -- who will become the guardian of her two young children?
- A man who was widowed at 55, remarried at 60, and then dies at 72 leaves behind a home and a lifetime of investments -- where will they go, the children from his first marriage or his current wife?
None of these hypothetical situations are a stretch of the imagination -- all are real life examples from my practice. Life happens, including sad and tragic events. By updating or creating an estate plan you are taking control of very delicate matters. And if you do not, you leave the answers up to the courts and other powers that be.
As always, a blog is intended to stimulate conversation and raise important issues. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon. Please seek counsel from a licensed attorney in your state. And thanks for reading!