As an attorney who practices in Estate Planning, I know from talking to other lawyers that we all experience a flood of calls in January from family, friends and clients to “get our Wills done”. Typically I write more Wills in January, February and March than any other time of the year.
Undoubtedly the calls are a part of everyone’s New Year’s Resolution – an effort to stop procrastinating after years of putting off planning for the inevitable. It’s never too late to tackle your Estate Planning even if you don’t have a fortune in the bank. There are many more things at stake than just financial issues when a lawyer helps you with your Estate.
If you have significant assets, complex planning is essential or it can cost your family and your Estate lots of money in Estate Taxes. If you have some assets but not a fortune, planning for the future is still critical: Wouldn’t you rather direct who inherits’ what, than have a Probate Court make that decision? And, if you have minor children, not having a Will with Guardians in place is almost parental malpractice.
And absolutely everybody needs what are called “Health Care Directives” which are documents in which you direct certain trusted people in your life to assist you if you’re alive but unable to take care of your affairs. These simple but important forms can avoid a family fight in court to establish guardianship over the person too sick to care for themselves.
The main reason why people wait too long to organize their Estate is, nobody really wants to face their own mortality or the mortality of their spouse. But the lack of planning often weighs pretty heavy on people’s minds. Parents of minor children generally feel unsettled when this isn’t done. I can relate that almost always clients express feelings of relief after they’ve signed their Wills. It is, after all, a very “adult” thing to do.
So, by all means, call your lawyer and get working on your Estate Planning – and have a very happy and healthy and wealthy 2015.