I'll Be Dead Anyway - So Why Does It Matter?

I have a presentation I do for groups called "I'll Be Dead Anyway - So Why Does It Matter?" that breaks down what happens if you die (1) without a will or trust, (2) with a will-based estate plan, or (3) with a trust-based estate plan. The handout, below, is basic and simple, but it helps frame the discussion of whether or not you need to consider some form of estate planning to protect you and your family.

The most important thing to understand is what will happen if you don't have a will, trust, or other estate planning documents in place. If you do nothing:

1. You have no control over who receives your money, your home, or your personal belongings. Assets will be distributed in probate court according to state law.

2. Your estate will be depleted by probate fees (typically about 5 percent of estate's value) and subject to federal estate tax (for larger estates).

3. Your family will be forced to endure a lengthy court proceeding, which often causes fights among surviving family members.

4. If you have kids, a JUDGE decides who will be guardian of your kids and who will control your kids' inheritance. Once your kids turn 18, there will be no control over how your kids spend their inheritance.

In light of the above, the "do nothing" choice is the wrong choice for most people. I enjoy giving the presentation and answering questions on estate planning because I believe it is a must-have discussion for all families.

If you are a member of some group (church group, networking group, professional association, etc.) whose members would benefit from this presentation, please contact me to schedule a presentation.

Or, simply send me your questions about estate planning and I will be happy to answer them: Do I need a will? Do I need a trust? How can I ensure my kids are raised the way I want if I am no longer here? How do I make sure my medical wishes are carried through if I suffer a serious medical condition like an irreversible coma?

Please contact me at chris@chriswhytelaw.com or (714) 937-2076. I am an Orange County-based estate planning attorney that provides affordable, personal legal services to individuals and families. Initial consultations are free.

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