What are You Waiting For?
Two things are certain and one nearly so. The two, as you already know, are death and taxes. The third is procrastination. It is almost as predictable as the grave.
For some reason, many people wait years to complete their estate plans. They die and leave behind a mess that others have to sort through and solve.
Because so many procrastinate in this area, the states have adopted rules to determine what happens to a deceased person’s estate. The court appoints a lawyer to carry out these rules and to resolve liabilities and distribute assets accordingly.
Unfortunately, these rules are generic and don’t take into account the wishes of the deceased. A parent who dies without a will and leaves a minor child behind has missed his or her opportunity to name a guardian. The child’s support system will be in doubt until a decision is made.
Another example is the person who dies without leaving philanthropic instructions in a will or other estate-planning document. Money that might otherwise go to charities supported by the person during life is disbursed according to “the rules.”
The court overseeing the probate process may be unaware of the concerns and priorities of the deceased. Consequently, relationships with family members and final decisions may not be consistent with the ideals and wishes of the deceased.
The whole process of finalizing probate and dealing with all the loose ends can be frustrating and even difficult, especially during the period of grieving.
These reasons and others are more than sufficient to encourage all readers to take care of their estate-planning responsibilities. The heartache and complications can be traumatic when a person dies without an estate plan. Things will go smoothly when proper planning has been done in advance.
To assist you in this process, the Columbus Jewish Foundation has a free Will Kit with helpful information. There is, of course, no obligation in receiving this kit, and we would very much like to send one to you. The material will help you prepare for your meeting with an estate-planning attorney and may possibly save you legal fees. Feel free to contact me or my office for a Will Kit at 614-338-2365 or firstname.lastname@example.org. What are you waiting for? You will find these complimentary materials interesting and useful.
Article appears as originally published in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle, November 12, 2015.
Jackie Jacobs is the Chief Executive Officer of the Columbus Jewish Foundation, the Central Ohio Jewish community’s planned giving and endowment headquarters.