Perhaps you are young and just out of college or newly retired but feeling as good as you did 20 years ago. Estate planning may not be on your mind much, if at all, because death seems like a distant prospect. This mindset, however, could become rife with problems later.
Without thorough estate plans, the court cannot know or implement your wishes. Your heirs and successors may suffer the consequences, such as protracted legal battles and contention. Whatever your stage in life, the time to begin planning your estate is now. This is particularly true if you have interest in or own hotly contestable property:
- Valuable personal property
You may have assets for which you know you need to establish provisions, including collectors’ items such as baseball cards or rare and desirable toys, significant savings or mature stock investments. However, even items worth little monetarily but a lot sentimentally, such as family heirlooms, can spur a costly fight. Documenting your wishes may forfend such contests, benefiting your estate and heirs.
- Valuable real property
Perhaps you own a variety of vacation homes around the world, so you are already on board with making final arrangements for your real estate. However, even if you only have the home you live in, you should be as proactive about your preparations. Do you want your house to sell, splitting the proceeds between your designated recipients? Alternatively, should it pass to a loved one who needs its stability? Devising a plan helps your home go where you feel it should.
- Valuable business assets
If you own a profitable business, you most likely want to designate who owns and runs it next. In addition, though, even investments that seem low-value right now could turn into big conflicts later.
Things like your stake in your cousin’s recording studio, shares in your friend’s startup and intellectual property you have created could become lucrative by the time your estate goes to probate, or at least your heirs might think they will be someday. Whether your assets currently seem inconsequential or not, recording your intent is a good way to anticipate future valuation.