What Happens If You Do Not Have An Estate Plan?

By Myka Landry

For those procrastinators out there or people who think estate plans are unnecessary, let’s look at what might happen if you haven’t taken the time to create one.

If you die without an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to state statute. In other words, the state will decide where your property will go. This distribution may be okay in very basic situations, but there are still many questions unanswered and many problems. For example, without an estate plan, your estate must automatically go through probate.

The court will have to appoint a personal representative to handle your estate and distribute your property. This may require a hearing, which could delay the process. In addition, all of your assets are essentially frozen until a personal representative is appointed. There also are times when family members do not agree as to who should handle the estate, so this situation can lead to family discord. Most importantly, it is completely out of your hands and you may end up with someone handling your estate that you would not want. If there is a lot of discord, and a hearing is required, the process could be very expensive, further depleting any assets in the estate.

In addition to having to go through what could be a lengthy and expensive court process to get a personal representative appointed, the court could require that the personal representative post a bond, and the court could be involved in all aspects of administering the estate.

If you want to ensure that your estate is handled by someone you trust, with as little court involvement as possible, and with a minimum of delay and expense, it is imperative that you have an estate plan in place.

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