Amber Griffiths responds to the question, Who Needs an Estate Plan?
Nearly everyone needs an estate plan regardless of where they are in their life. That will include a trust and/or a will, as well as documents that address the possibility of incapacity (an advance health care directive and a financial power of attorney).
With an attorney who understands and focuses on estate planning:
- You can protect your privacy and that of your family members, so that, after you pass away, personal details are not filed in open court, if you have a trust (this is not the case with a will and no trust).
- You get to ensure your health care instructions are carried out in the event of an emergency.
- You decide what happens to your assets, using an estate plan, so that your selected decision makers handle assets for you instead of a court, if you are in the hospital or if you pass away.
- You can save money on the legal fees that otherwise can occur in the event of death, by having an estate plan that avoids probate court.
- You can protect your children who are under 18 by naming the guardian you want for them who will care for your children if, unfortunately, you cannot do so.
- You can determine who will receive your assets once you pass. If you have children or other young beneficiaries, you can to decide how they receive the assets, and even what the assets are used for (such as college education).
What Happens in the Absence of Proper Estate Planning?
Here are a couple of well-known examples:
- Picture Audrey Hepburn’s storage locker, which she has filled to the brim with her mementos. The locker contains particular memorabilia—such as hats and scarves and sunglasses—that she wanted her sons to have. Then she passes. Her two boys do not want to sell the property and split the profit. Instead, they want to keep the items their mother loved and wanted them to have, but both sons want many of the same items and cannot seem to compromise. Not anticipating this possibility (and not using an attorney who focuses on estate planning, who could point that out), Audrey Hepburn signed a faulty estate plan that led to that dispute, where a court resolved who got which iconic Hepburn sunglasses, hats, and scarves. This is not uncommon. It took 24 years for that court case to be resolved.
- It is now three years after Prince died, and inadequate planning means his assets still have not gone to his heirs. A court has stated they will not until every court appeal has been ruled upon, and each appeal can take years to resolve. As of 2020, his heirs dispute nearly $45 million dollars in settlement costs, including $10 million in legal fees.
- When Elvis Presley died, his estate was valued at more than $10 million. Unfortunately, by the time his debts and taxes were paid, less than $1 million actually went to his heirs. Elvis Presley had a will, but because of poor planning, the bulk of his assets went to the probate court, federal and state governments, fees that were paid to paid lawyers, and other administrative expenses.
- For many folks without these kinds of assets, the family conflicts still arise. Disorganization still abounds, such as the use of little bits of paper taped (that often get misplaced) to the bottom and backs of mementos, art, and other treasures meant for family and friends.
What’s My Solution?
Engage in Estate Planning with an attorney whose primary focus is estate planning, such as Amber Griffiths.
- You can learn more by asking Amber Griffiths how estate planning is both proactive and preventive.
- You can use estate planning to memorialize your values and wishes on paper—addressing your values and wishes about your assets, privacy, finances, health care, your future, and your family. Whomever you work with, be sure your attorney explains how the estate plan is comprehensive and tailored to you.
- You can update your estate plan. After marriage, divorce, or birth of a child (or grandchild), most people need to update their estate plan. A revocable trust is written to provide this flexibility.
- You can complete your estate plan remotely. Contact Amber Griffiths to learn more. She has been offering remote estate planning since 2015 and has been practicing law since 2006.
- You can learn more about Amber Griffiths by clicking here.