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We seldom know exactly how much time we will spend on this earth. We were reminded of that recently when our colleague, R.B. Smith, died unexpectedly. It was another reminder of how important estate planning can be to family members and survivors. R.B. knew this, and had plans in place, including details of how he wanted his funeral handled (yes, this included a jazz band after the service playing the standard, When the Saints Go Marching In).

Why do I need estate planning?

  1. Consider any minor children you might have or adults dependent on you for their care. What happens if you don’t have plans in place?
  2. If you die unexpectedly, you leave behind not only family and friends, but things like personal property (your car, clothes, furniture, jewelry), real property (houses or land), investment accounts (IRAs, 401ks, stocks), cash and bank accounts. While the courts can get involved in settling your estate, this can be time consuming and costly. Most people would much rather choose a trusted relative or friend to do this. This person becomes the Executor.
  3. You may also leave behind debts that will need to be paid from your assets. And what about your digital assets, automatic payments or online profiles that need to be handled?
  4. If you have a preference for funeral arrangements, you may specify this as part of your plans. You may even choose to pre-pay for arrangements so your loved ones are not left with the added stress of this financial obligation when the time comes.

Age is not always a factor. Accidents like car crashes and work-related injuries happen every day to people of all ages and walks of life. Sudden medical emergencies like heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms also occur with little regard to age. If you are over the age of 18, you need to think about these issues.

If you don’t have estate plans in place, we encourage you to take action now. If you have already met with an estate planning attorney to draft the appropriate legal documents, remember to review them periodically to ensure they are current and reflect any changes in your situation. If you need assistance, the estate planning attorneys at Brinkley Walser are here to help.

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