When some people think of estate planning, they picture over-the-top Hollywood-type scenarios where a very rich old man has passed away and the self-serving, over-indulgent heirs greedily wait to see what they will get. Usually, in the movies, there is at least one unhappy heir, otherwise, the movie would be very boring.
While this may just seem like a bad movie plot, you may be surprised to find that every year thousands of people fight over money after someone has died – especially when the person who passed didn’t plan for the distribution of assets. And, despite the stereotypes we have due to those Hollywood movies, families don’t have to be rich to get in a huge feud.
No one ever thinks their family will fight after they pass away. Plus, many people assume that because they are married everything will pass seamlessly to their spouse or children, even if there is no will or trust in place. But, it doesn’t always work that way. That is why everyone, no matter how many (or few) assets they have, should at least have some estate planning documents in place including the following:
- Last Will and Testament: This is the most basic of estate planning documents. A Will gives you the opportunity to direct how you want your assets to be passed down when you are gone. If you have family members who you believe will fight over your estate, this document can provide certainty and clarity and will remove any doubt about your wishes.
- Living Trust: Not everyone needs a trust. But, if you have a desire to help protect your loved ones from making impulsive or reckless decisions with their money, a Trust may be the only safeguard that prevents them from blowing their inheritance. It can also spare your family from having to go through the stress and expense of Hillsborough County Probate which can cut down on fighting when you are gone.
- Power of Attorney: This document appoints someone you trust with the ability to make legal, financial, and personal decisions on your behalf if you are unable to manage your own affairs for any reason. Again, having a Power of Attorney named in advance can prevent your kids or loved ones from fighting over who gets to make decisions and be in control of your affairs.
- Healthcare Directive: This legal document appoints someone who can make medical decisions for you if you are ill or incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Again, this prevents your family from fighting over who gets to “call the shots” or communicate with doctors if you are unable.
The best way to ensure peace among your family members is to have a clear plan in place that makes managing and administering your estate as easy and stress-free as possible. If you need help getting started, we invite you to contact our Brandon estate planning law firm at 813-438-8503 to schedule a consultation.