Estate planning involves writing out a will and maybe also creating a living will that takes effect if you experience a medical emergency. Those with spouses, children or substantial personal property may need an estate plan for their own protection or to ensure the well-being of their dependents.
Sadly, many otherwise responsible adults find seemingly reasonable excuses to put off creating an estate plan. Maybe they expect their family to change or to acquire big assets in the next few years. They may tell themselves that they will get around to making a plan once things settle down a bit.
Unfortunately, that means that many people experience life-altering circumstances without an estate plan in place. What might happen to you if you don’t have an estate plan?
You could wind up in a medically vulnerable situation
Once you turn 18, your parents no longer have access to your medical records or the authority to make decisions about the care that you receive. Only your spouse has the legal authority to handle medical issues on your behalf, and they could potentially wind up hurt in the same incident that leaves you incapacitated.
If you don’t have an advance directive or medical power of attorney, there may not be anyone to speak up on your behalf when you experience a medical emergency. Estate planning ensures that there is someone to coordinate your medical treatments during your incapacitation.
You can even create financial powers of attorney that insure someone manages your assets and pays your bills. Without those documents in place, you could receive the wrong kind of medical care or recover from incapacitation only to have to clean up a big financial mess.
You won’t have control over your ultimate legacy
If you actually die without an estate plan, then you have no say in what happens to your property. Minnesota has laws that govern the distribution of your property if you die without a will.
Intestate succession favors your closest family members. Those with an intimate partner that they have not married or who are estranged from their parents may have legacy wishes that differ substantially from how the probate courts will distribute their property if they die without a will.
Recognizing how you are vulnerable could help motivate you to finally sit down and create a comprehensive estate plan.