The news has been full of death lately, specifically cancer deaths, with the disease having recently taken, among others, Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Dan Haggerty in quick succession. When these clusters of high-profile deaths crowd the news, it is natural for all of us to ponder our own mortality, and to wonder whether we have done all that we could and should do in order to protect our loved ones when – as inevitably must happen to us all – our time in this life comes to a close.
In these circumstances, we might check our life insurance policy or our business succession plan; we might even make an appointment to discuss prepaid funeral planning. Those are prudent steps to take, but many of us will leave out a very important step: consulting with an attorney about estate planning. By most reputable estimates, less than half of American adults even have a valid Last Will & Testament, and far fewer than that have a valid Trust. Without a Trust, you are sentencing your loved ones to the often time-consuming and costly process of probate in the courts after you’ve passed away. Even if your estate (defined as the assets and liabilities you will leave behind at death) is relatively modest, you no doubt want to ensure that the items in that estate are distributed according to your wishes, with the least amount of red tape and heartache possible. The key to accomplishing that, and keeping your estate out of the probate courts, is comprehensive estate planning.
For the average person or married couple, a revocable trust and pour-over will is a fantastic prescription for avoiding probate. At Smart Law, we offer comprehensive estate planning services as a natural complement to our full-service Family Law practice. We are happy to sit down with you to go over your options, and we will even review your existing estate planning documents (if any) for you and advise whether or not they are in order. If the news lately has you thinking about protecting your legacy through comprehensive estate planning, we can help.