I Don’t Need An Estate Plan Because….

May 5, 2021

I don’t need an estate plan because….

                        My “estate” isn’t large enough.

                        It’s just my spouse and two kids.

                        I’m not old enough.

                        I’m in good health.

                        Everyone in my family gets along.

These are just some of the excuses that follow the opening statement.  The reality is that preparing an estate plan is part of life.  We all die.  Our death could be sudden/unexpected or at the end of a long battle with a terminal disease.   When we put off preparing an estate plan, we are potentially leaving behind a huge mess.

An estate plan is a phrase used to describe a set of documents that are designed to help your family care for you when you are incapacitated and to help your family deal with your assets (stuff) after you pass.  The most common estate plan documents are:

  • Trust (most often revocable)
  • Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Directive/Power of Attorney

There are other tools that are available and a variety of types of trusts.  What each of these documents do will be discussed in other posts. 

This is an all too common story, and a good example of why a plan is needed:

A potential client (“Jane”) needed help with a Probate matter.  Her ninety-something great uncle died without a will (the fancy law term for this is intestate).  He had no children of his own, but was an uncle to 7 nieces and nephews.  One of those nieces was Jane’s mother.  Jane and her brother (“Jack”) lived with and cared for the great uncle before his death. 

Several times, the uncle told them he wanted them to have the Berkeley home he bought in the 1940s (valued at about $600,000 on Zillow).  They asked him to write a will, and he refused.  He believed the family would do the right thing and recognize that Jane and Jack had cared for him.

The legal heirs (Jane’s 6 aunts/uncles and mom) were the ones to inherit.  They did not care that Jane and Jack spent years caring for the decedent.  Six of the heirs wanted to sell the property: leaving the two thirty-somethings with no recourse or right to anything. 

Jane and Jack received a quick and harsh lesson in the laws of intestate succession…. Or what happens to your stuff (even if it is “just” a house) if someone dies without an estate plan. 

Contact us today, to avoid finding your loved ones in a situation like Jane and Jack, and discuss creating an estate plan to fit your needs.

Lisa A. Corman, Esq. can be contacted at lcorman@ericksenarbuthnot.com or (510) 832-7770, ex. 150.