- Medical care: You might not be cared for the way you want
Nobody wants to think about it, but what if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your health care wishes? A loved one would need to make decisions about what kind of medical care to give you and they wouldn’t even know what you want. This would leave your family in a very tough position to make decisions during a very stressful time. It could lead to arguments that cause rifts in the family.
- Asset distribution: You’d have no control over who gets what
An estate plan details how you’d like your assets to be distributed once you’re gone. Without a will or trust, Massachusetts laws of intestacy come into play. That means that the court would control who gets your assets. Usually the spouse and children would inherit, but it can get complicated with today’s blended families. What if you’re married to your second wife, with whom you have two kids, and you have a child from your first marriage as well? Will your first child still get what you’d want them to? What if you have had a live-in partner for 10 years but never married? That person could be left out.
- Estate value: The worth of your estate could decrease, leaving less for your family
Without an estate plan, most of your assets will have to go through probate. Probate is a court-managed proceeding where a will is verified, a representative is appointed, and assets still titled in the name of a decedent are distributed according to the law of intestacy if there was no will. The purpose of probate is to prevent fraud after someone’s death and also to give creditors an opportunity to make claims against the estate. The cost and duration of probate depend on many factors, but typically most estates are settled within 12 to 18 months if there is no litigation involved. Probate expenses include executor’s fees, attorney’s fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds. A good estate plan will limit these expenses and ensure that you leave as much as possible to your family.
Doing an estate plan ensures that you control how your assets will be distributed and how you’d be medically treated if you should ever become incapacitated. As a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer, I can help you create an estate plan that will protect you, your loved ones, and your assets. Contact me today for a no-cost, confidential consultation to discuss the next steps, by calling us at (617) 299-6976 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.