Despite how loyal and loving you believe your friends or family to be, it's in your best interest to retain the services of an estate planning attorney while you're healthy and of sound mind. Death brings with it mourning, extreme confusion, and emotional volatility. Having an estate planning attorney hash out all of the legalities of your assets and your estate serves gives clarity to the process.
This doesn't mean that there won't be a relative or a business partner who tries to dispute your final wishes. But having an estate planning legal attorney to handle the legal execution of your wishes creates a legal shield that could be hard for the opposition to counter. Think about the following scenarios of when estate planning could protect you.
You're the founder of a business
Do you have a succession plan in place? If not, then you could place very existence of your company in jeopardy after you die. This could mean that all of your employees could suddenly find themselves without an income to support themselves. This might also turn into a war between your key holders or business partners versus your spouse or next-of-kin. You owe it to your partners, your employees, and to your personal beneficiaries to put a succession plan in place. And while you're at it, you'll need to have your attorney address things like debt, accounts receivable, marketing, and business plans. You might have desires for the succession of your business that doesn't fall in line with what a probate court might decide when you die.
You want all of your money left to a charity
This is a sticky subject when there are multiple beneficiaries who stand to gain a financial windfall when you die. It's often at the reading of the will when they'll learn that they're not inheriting a dime, and instead, you've left your money to the charities of your choice. You have every right to leave your financial assets to a charity instead of your family, but if you don't set this up legally, then a probate court will award your financial assets to your kin, in legally-descending order.
You're not legally divorced
There are couples who, for a variety of reasons, neglect to sign divorce papers, although they might life separate lives for years at a time. If you're in this position, and you die while still legally married, then your legal spouse could probably inherit your assets. It doesn't matter if this violates your wishes, and it doesn't matter if you've started a new family with another life partner. Your new life partner can't be recognized if you're still legally married. If your personal house isn't quite in order, then it's crucial for you to sit down with an estate lawyer to hash out who will receive your money when you die. This is especially true if there are children sired from your unresolved marriage or your new romantic partnership.
For more information, contact an estate planning attorney, such as one from the Law Offices of Paolo Conte PLLC.