What a person does during their life can have significant ramifications on what happens after their death, such as how things go for their family and friends after they pass away. This is especially the case when it comes to what they do (or don’t do) in the realm of estate planning.
One estate-planning-related thing that can have particularly big implications when a person dies is whether or not the person has a valid will. When a person dies without an enforceable will, or other estate planning devices aimed at serving the same general purpose, many negative effects could follow, including:
- The deceased’s family and friends facing unpleasant surprises related to the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
- There being particularly fertile ground for intra-family disputes to arise regarding the distribution of the deceased’s estate.
- The deceased’s loved ones having difficulty identifying and locating the deceased’s assets. Among the things that wills and other estate planning-related documents can contain are lists and descriptions of a person’s assets and where they are located.
- The probate process being more difficult and costly for the deceased’s loved ones than it had to be.
- A person the deceased wanted to get estate assets not getting any assets, or getting less in assets than the deceased would have wanted.
- A person the deceased would not have wanted part of their estate going to getting estate assets.
- There not being any safeguards protecting the deceased’s legacy.
Now, when a person does have a will, the quality of the will can impact how able it is to prevent these kinds of problems. When a person’s will is poorly constructed or isn’t updated in response to significant changes in their life situation, it could create gaps that could allow the above-mention problems to seep in despite the presence of the will when the person passes away.
So, when it comes to wills, not procrastinating is not the only thing that is important. So too is proper will formation and updating. Lawyers experienced in will matters can help individuals in their efforts to ensure their will is able to serve the purposes they intend it to.
Source: Forbes, “Horror Stories: When You Die Without A Will,” Kate Ashford, June 30, 2016