I had an eventful, fitness weekend. I walked both Saturday and Sunday with my walking group Hands up for Hooters, and attended a gait clinic at Fleet Feet on Saturday morning to fix what is wrong with my form (well this was tailored for runners but applies to walking too). I’m working on being mindful of my calorie intake, with a goal of maintaining my post Camino weight, which means I already have to lose a few lbs. Calories in vs. energy expended is the name of the game and I am trying to keep sugar out of my line of sight… pretty tough but once the sugar is gone, it’s amazing how the cravings disappear too. Staying on track with personal and fitness goals is my focus in order to become more disciplined and actually reach these goals, instead of just thinking about them!
Are you single, and wondering why an estate plan is important? Unless you are ok with a costly, time consuming court process, then planning is essential. Even if your assets were not probated, they could be lost and end up with the state of CA Dept. of Unclaimed Property, already bursting at the seams with over $8 Billion in unclaimed property. More to the point, no matter how much, or little you feel you have, exerting control to decide who, when and how your assets are distributed is a gift you give to yourself and others. If you have children, ensuring that your assets pass to them expeditiously and with as little cost as possible is a true gift of love. Make it easy, from the beginning, rather than harder in the end.
Until next week!
I Don’t Have Kids, So Why Do I Need Estate Planning? Part 1
It’s a common misconception to think that if you don’t have children, you don’t need to worry about estate planning. But the fact is, it can be even MORE important to do estate planning if you have no children.
Some of the common thoughts behind this mistaken belief may take one of these forms:
“If I die, everything will pass to my spouse anyway, so why bother?”
“I’m single with little wealth, so who cares who gets my few meager assets?”
“Estate planning is an expensive hassle and it doesn’t even benefit me because I’ll be dead, so I’m better off letting a judge handle things.”
This kind of thinking ignores several basic facts about both estate planning and life in general. Regardless of your marital status, if you don’t have children, you face potential estate-planning complications which those with children do not. And this is true whether you’re wealthy or have very limited assets.
Without proper estate planning, you’re not only jeopardizing your personal property, but you’re putting your life at risk, too. And that’s not even mentioning the potential conflict and expense you’re leaving for your surviving family and friends to deal with.
So if you’re childless, consider the first of three inconvenient truths before you decide to forego estate planning.
Someone will get your stuff
Whether you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in between, when you die, everything you own will be passed on to someone. Without a will or trust, your assets will go through probate, where a judge and state law will decide who gets everything you own. In the event no family steps forward, your assets will become property of your state government.
Why give the state everything you worked your life to build? And even if you have little financial wealth, you undoubtedly own a few sentimental items, including pets, that you’d like to pass to a close friend or favorite charity.
However, it’s rare for someone to die without any family members stepping forward. It’s far more likely that some relative you haven’t spoken with in years will come out of the woodwork to stake a claim. Without a will or trust, state laws establish which family member has the priority inheritance. If you’re unmarried with no children, this hierarchy typically puts parents first, then siblings, then more distant relatives like nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Depending on your family, this could have a potentially dangerous—even deadly—outcome. For instance, what if your closest living relative is your estranged brother with serious addiction issues? Or what if your assets are passed on to a niece who’s still a child and likely to squander the inheritance?
And if your estate does contain significant wealth and assets, this could lead to a costly and contentious court battle, with all of your relatives hiring expensive lawyers to fight over your estate—which is exactly what’s happening with Prince’s family right now.
Finally, even if you have a spouse and your assets are passed to him or her, there’s no guarantee they’ll live much longer than you. In the event of their death without a will or a trust, everything goes to his or her family, regardless of the fact that you can’t stand your in-laws.
You really don’t want your spouse’s sister, brother, parents (or the new spouse he or she marries after you die) inheriting what you’ve worked so hard for, do you?
Christine Faulkner, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.