Legal Matters

presented by Bradford & Holliman, Estate Planning

  1. I’m too young to need an Estate Plan. Regardless of your age, you need an estate plan. If you are not married or do not have children, you must decide who will get your things.  In my youth, I didn’t have a lot of assets; but, I still wanted certain people to get what I had if my husband and I died together in an accident. You may not want your assets to go to parents or to siblings. You may prefer your assets to be given to one parent or to one sibling. You may want your assets to be given to friends or to charity. You have the right to decide how your assets are distributed; but, you must have an estate plan to do that. If you have children, you need an estate plan that names who will take care of your children. You do not want family members to fight over who will take them.
  2. I don’t have enough assets to need an Estate Plan. There is no magic number that suddenly deems you rich enough to need an estate plan. The key question is, “Do you have assets that are important enough to you enough you want to control who gets the assets?” If so, you need an estate plan.
  3. My spouse gets everything anyway. Without a Will or Trust, your spouse may not receive everything. Alabama law has certain requirements for how much a spouse can receive. It is entirely possible that your parents or your children may receive some portion of assets to the exclusion of your spouse.
  4. I can’t decide how to divide things up. It can be very difficult to decide how much to give to children or grandchildren; but, the danger in waiting on an estate plan is that you may die without ever deciding. If that happens, the State of Alabama gets to decide who gets your assets. Wouldn’t you prefer to make a decision that you can change later if needed instead of leaving it to chance and the State of Alabama?
  5. I can’t decide who to put in charge. If you do not make this decision, the State will make the decision for you. Talk with your estate planning attorney. You may decide to name an unrelated third party; or, you may name a family member. You can always change your nomination in the future if you later feel the person is no longer a good choice.
  6. It costs too much – It generally will cost much more if you fail to have an estate plan. An administration following intestate law is more complicated and can allow more opportunities for family to fight – all of which increases the costs.
  7. I’ll be dead so who cares – While chances are pretty good that you will not care about your assets after death, if you love your family, you can help to prevent them from having disputes and lessen the difficulties of going through a long and complicated estate process. This is especially true in blended families; or, in families with well-established personality conflicts.

It is easy to make excuses and delay preparing an estate plan. Don’t let excuses determine your family’s fate. Start working through your concerns with an experienced estate planning attorney that can help you review your choices and make decisions.

Melanie Bradford Holliman 

Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC

Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.

2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124

205-663-0281, www.bradfordholliman.com

This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.

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