Estate Planning Lawyer
When a loved one dies, the surviving family members often endure a long and difficult process passing on the decedent’s assets. Often times, the decedent did not prepare a Will or a Trust, and the family must go through the court process called probate. This entails spending more money on courts and attorneys, spending more time waiting to distribute the assets, and being exposed to the public, giving outsiders knowledge about the family’s inheritance. Although most people do not want their family to go through probate, they don’t take the necessary steps to plan ahead with an estate planning lawyer Palatine, IL offers.
Another byproduct of not planning for your family that is often overlooked, are the relationships left behind. When a family has to deal with an estate to be distributed, and no instructions left by the decedent, then the potential for conflicts are exponentially greater. The analogy I like to use is IKEA. What if you bought a dresser from IKEA, took it home, laid out all of the pieces to start building the dresser, but then you realize, there are no instructions in the box. Perhaps some people may have the capacity to figure it out, but most people would not be able to assemble the dresser without the instructions.
If a person does not leave instructions, many situations may arise, including, but not limited to:
- Family members taking advantage of the situation, and receiving more than they were entitled to;
- Family members arguing over the heirloom jewelry that was “promised” to them;
- Family members racking up $70K worth of legal fees fighting in court because of a deep-rooted argument over assets;
- Assets going to family members who were estranged from the decedent;
- Assets going inappropriately to ex sons in laws, or drug addicted family members;
- Assets going to a Nursing Home or the State because the beneficiary was on Medicaid;
- Children arguing over who gets what, and decide that they will never speak to one another again;
- Assets going to an 18-year-old who decides to forfeit college, go on a 2-year spending spree, and wondering where the next inheritance will come from;
- Assets going through the Bankruptcy Court because the decedent’s child had creditors to pay; and,
- Assets going into the pockets of a plaintiff who is suing the decedent’s child in a lawsuit.
The bottom line is leave some good instructions for your family, via a Will and/or Trust. Help them build that dresser with the most information possible, so they can build it efficiently and the least amount of frustration. If you can prevent extra expenditures, and reduce the amount of conflict among the family members, then isn’t it worth it?
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Bott & Associates, LTD. for their insight into estate planning and the importance of leaving instructions.