Holiday parties, shopping, gift-wrapping and travel arrangements consume precious hours this time of the year, making it common for many to continue to put estate planning on the back burner. However, one of the most precious gifts one can give to children and loved ones is a properly executed or updated will. Many do not understand the ramifications of dying “intestate,” or without a will, which often has profoundly unintended consequences. If you die without a will, decisions regarding your property or your children may be made by the state. There is added stress on surviving family who must deal with the legal and personal matters without knowing your wishes.
It is a topic with which many are uncomfortable, and most assume that end of life planning doesn’t need to be discussed until “later” or “when we’re older.” But the harsh reality is that people with young families may face tragedy, something we hear more frequently during holiday travel time when weather and traffic increase accidents and fatalities. For many families living far apart, holiday gatherings may be one of the few opportunities to discuss your wishes in person. Although it can be a difficult subject to bring up, there are different ways to initiate the conversation, including utilizing an example of a relative, co-worker or news story. Once you’ve shared your wishes, it is important to take the next step to protect your family.
Make it your new year’s resolution to prepare proper legal documents. There are common misconceptions that only wealthy people “need” estate planning, or that it is an expensive and time-consuming process. While there are more detailed options for families with larger assets, a simple Will is sufficient for the average person to identify a personal representative and provide instructions on distribution of their property. Parents with minor children can add trust provisions to their Wills naming guardians for their children. Wills are often accompanied by a durable power of attorney, a document naming a representative to act on your behalf for financial matters in the event of your incapacity or death. It is also important to prepare Advanced Directives, commonly known as a “living will.” This enables you to specify your wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures and to name a health care representative to make those decisions in the event you are unable to do so. At JHDJ Law, our attorneys can help you determine what documents are needed to protect your family. The process is efficient and cost-effective, typically involving an inexpensive flat fee for the preparation of simple estate packages. By formalizing your wishes legally, you exercise control over decisions regarding your property and your children and you reduce stress and prevent confusion for your surviving family.
Please contact JHDJ Law at 317-569-0770 for more information about our low cost options for simple estate planning.
The above is for informational purposes only should not be considered legal advice. Each case is unique and you should consult an attorney for advice regarding your particular situation.