A person’s death takes a considerable emotional toll on his or her loved ones. They are left to cope with feelings of loss, overwhelming sadness and fear about the future. When a person passes away without providing any guidance for his or her estate, these feelings can grow to include anger, frustration and even resentment.
This is particularly true if the person had significant assets or multiple properties to distribute. If you have not taken steps to address distribution of your own substantial or complicated assets through trust or estate planning, then you are leaving your loved ones to manage some incredibly difficult obstacles. We discuss some of these obstacles below.
Resolving familial conflict
Familial fighting over assets is unfortunately common when someone passes away without an estate plan in place. Instead of being able to grieve and support one another, family members can become pitted against each other, fighting for the things they want or feel they deserve.
Fulfilling tax obligations
Taxes can take a massive chunk out of the assets and financial resources your leave behind, especially if you have not set up a trust or taken other steps to minimize the tax-related consequences of passing property on to others. Without these plans, your loved ones can send more money to the government than they wind up keeping.
Minimizing the public fallout
Oftentimes, the reason we learn so much about the details of a person’s assets and estate is that they become public knowledge through the probate process. Unless you take steps to avoid probate — by creating trusts, for instance — the details of your finances, investments and business interests will be available to inquiring members of the public. This also includes information on your heirs. This can be intrusive and frightening for your loved ones to deal with.
How you can shield your loved ones from these burdens
As discussed in this article, there are many reasons why people are hesitant to create an estate plan. However, rather than let your own fears, confusion or frustration take over and lead to a costly mistake, you can discuss your end-of-life wishes and priorities with an attorney to begin creating your estate plan. Doing so can be of incredible relief to your loved ones and allow them to focus on supporting each other and coping with such a difficult time.