The Dispensation of Your Estate
Too many people don’t plan for the future for after they are gone. This is a mistake, especially if there are assets that you want to be divvied up among any children you have, other family members, or friends. Without some kind of estate plan in place, things can go awry quite quickly. One of the fastest, yet ironically slowest methods, it can go awry is if there is no legal protection set in place in the first place – this can cause your estate to become entangled in probate court. Probate is a process that can last a handful of months to a handful of years, and it is all paid for by your heirs/beneficiaries. This is before they are even capable of accessing whatever assets you intend on leaving to them. This is the worst that can happen to your estate after you die and, if it is especially damaging, it can deplete your estate completely.
If you set up a trust and a will that do not contradict one another, then your estate can be settled relatively quickly and without many hiccups. So, in essence, what happens to a person’s estate after they die is entirely up to them. Assets that are transferable upon death are all but entirely effortless, but those assets that require special legal protections are what should be carefully seen to. If you have any money that you want to leave to your family, how that is divvied up between beneficiaries is entirely at your discretion. If you have heirlooms that you want to see go to a specific person, it is written down so that there is no question and no squabbling after you have passed. There is very little of your estate that cannot be handled by a living trust – a trust that is revocable at any time that you decide to do so.
Part of the reason planning is so important is because there is always a plan in place for your estate after you die, but not necessarily one that you or your beneficiaries will like or enjoy. In the event that a person passes without a legal document explaining their wishes, the state will decide for them – and not always in the interests of your family. Decisions that seem innocuous now can have damaging effects later – if you have minor children and neither you nor your spouse is there to care for them, the state will appoint a guardian to oversee them and their assets, with complete control over how they are taken care of. If you are simply incapacitated and your state does not mandate a family member to oversee medical decisions, a conservator will be appointed to do so for you. These are decisions that can, and should, be made by you before it can become a costly legal battle for your family.
Nobody likes to think about their death, but it is important to plan for you and your family for when it happens before it happens. Your estate is yours to control, and what happens to it after you die is entirely up to you.