Why You Should Prepare an Estate Plan
Kimmer W. Callahan, Esq.
I cannot count the number of times I have had a client say something to the effect, “I don’t have much, why do I need a will?”, or “My situation is so simple, do I really need a will?” The reality is, what seems simple and straightforward may be more complex than it seems. In the last couple of weeks I have met with two clients who are facing expensive and difficult situations as a result of this line of thinking. I will share one of these stories with you.
I will call my client “Mary”. (I am not using her real name to protect her identity.) Mary and her brother inherited some property from their parents. It was always understood that this property was to stay in the family and follow down through the bloodline. A number of years ago her brother passed away. He did not have a will because he “did not have much.” In fact, his interest in the property from his parents was his only real asset. Mary’s brother had no children of his own. However, his wife did have one child. The brother’s wife has now passed away. Mary would like to make some improvements to the property that she inherited from her parents. The problem is, she does not own 100% of the property. What happens to her brother’s interest in the property?
Remember, it was the family intent that the property follow the bloodline. The intent is that Mary’s brother’s interest should pass to her, and then to her children, because he had no children of his own. The reality is, her brother’s interest in the property passes to his stepchild, rather than to Mary. Mary is now facing an expensive legal process to clear title to this property, and she faces the real possibility of having to “buy-out” her brother’s interest from his stepchild – this is far from the intent of the family, and far from being “simple”.
This is just one example of many situations that have left family members in sad, difficult and expensive situations, simply because someone came to the very wrong conclusion that their situation was too simple and straightforward to justify the nominal cost of preparing an estate plan using a will or living trust.
Why do results like this happen? It happens because, if you don’t write your own will, your estate will be settled based on the default provisions spelled out on the state laws. These laws define who will inherit your property and who will be in charge of administering your estate. Mary’s situation illustrates why it is so important to document and express your wishes with a valid estate plan, rather than falling victim to the sometimes crazy and irrational results of the default provisions of the law.
The good news is – estate planning does not need to be expensive or complicated. By working with an experienced estate-planning attorney, you and your family can have the “Peace of Mind” of knowing that your final affairs are in order, and that your estate will be settled in a simple, straightforward manner. We can help you create a plan that will make sure your wishes and desires are carried out in the most cost-effective manner.
For more information about estate planning, please attend one of our free workshops, visit our web site, or set an appointment for a free consultation.
Call now for your free, no-obligation consultation – 208.664.9228.
Callahan & Associates, Chtd.
By Kimmer W. Callahan
Attorney at Law
Provided as an educational service of Callahan & Associates, Chtd.