You may be wondering why you would need an estate plan, and if it’s really important to have one. If you are planning for your family’s future, and you want to have some control over what happens to you and your assets at the end of your life, you should strongly consider getting an estate plan.
What is Estate Planning?
An estate includes everything an individual owns when they die—such as their house, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings. It also includes other assets that the person owns, such as retirement accounts, real estate, and life insurance proceeds.
Estate planning also lets an individual decide what kind of medical treatment they wish to receive if they were to become incapacitated, and how they would want their estate distributed after they die.
An estate plan includes a will, health care directives, financial powers of attorney, as well as documents that appoint a personal representative who will oversee the distribution of a decedent’s assets.
Why Should I Have a Will?
A will gives an individual the opportunity to make sure that everything that belongs to them goes to the people they want it to go to. It also gives them the opportunity to decide in advance who will care for any dependents that they may have, as well as make sure that any debts are paid before their estate is distributed.
What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
It’s the question every adult should ask themselves: “What would happen to my family if I died without a will?” If an individual were to pass away without a will, it’s called dying “intestate.” That means that the state determines who among an individual’s family or close relatives gets what. If the person who passed away has minor children, the court will appoint a guardian until the children reach adulthood.
What is the Law of Intestacy?
If an individual dies without a will in the state of Utah, the laws of intestacy take over. The state of Utah has various statutes in the probate code that outline what happens to a person’s belongings or their minor children (if they have any) if they pass away without a will.
What Happens to My Property and Assets?
When the laws of intestacy take over, somebody—whether that’s a relative, a creditor, or an interested party—will start the probate process. Then, the probate court will allow time for creditors to make claims on properties, especially if the person has debts.
The probate court also sorts through who will get custody of a decedent’s children. And if they died with minor children, it lays out which generations of heirs will receive certain assets and when. So, if a person were to die without a will, the state will essentially be doing that person’s estate planning for them.
Why is it Better to Have an Estate Plan?
Having an estate plan means that you can be in control of what happens to your assets after you pass away. And if you have minor children, you will also get to decide who’s going to raise them, and what funds are going to be used to raise them.
An estate plan can also benefit you while you’re still alive. In the event that you become incapacitated, your estate plan can instruct doctors on what type of medical treatment you wish—or don’t wish—to receive.
And remember, if you die without a will, your assets could go to the government or to relatives you never intended to benefit from your property. Worse, your family may have to deal with property title disputes, long legal battles, and more.
So, regardless of whether you’re single or married; whether you have lots of assets or very few assets; whether you have children or not; creating an estate plan is always a good idea. It’s not hard to do—it’s a very simple process, and we’d love to help guide you through it. Give us a call now for a no-obligation consultation.