Losing a Loved One Without a Plan
I recently spoke with a woman who had just lost her partner of over 20 years. The tragic part? They weren't married, and he had passed away without any estate plan in place. They split time between her home in Florida and his in Minnesota, sharing expenses. She was in a panic over funeral costs, credit card bills, the mortgage, and other expenses coming due that she was now solely responsible for. She had no idea what to do or what her rights were. His only known surviving family were a half-brother and an estranged daughter he hadn't spoken to in decades.
The Consequences of No Estate Plan
With no written estate plan, the state's default laws took effect. Since he lived in Minnesota when he passed, its laws governed everything related to his estate. Unfortunately for the distraught woman, this meant navigating a lengthy, expensive probate process to gain control of assets and settle affairs.
I explained that unless named as a beneficiary or co-owner, her only rights were as a potential creditor, not an heir. After 20+ years together, the state wouldn't recognize her claim to inherit unless specified in an estate plan.
The Power of Proper Planning
This entire stressful situation could have been avoided with proper estate planning. A trust would have let a trustee (like her) immediately take control of assets after his passing, avoiding probate.
Beyond skipping probate, estate planning also lets people decide how assets are distributed. Given his estrangement from his daughter, it's unlikely he wanted her to inherit everything. But without stating his wishes in an estate plan, that was now the probable outcome.
Take Control of Your Legacy
Don’t leave behind an expensive, drawn-out mess for loved ones to handle. With a proper estate plan you can:
- Name beneficiaries for assets to avoid probate
- Appoint someone you trust to manage your estate
- Ensure assets go to intended heirs, not just next of kin
- Spell out funeral/healthcare wishes
None of us know what tomorrow brings. With estate planning, you can gain peace of mind that loved ones will be provided for. Don’t wait. If you are ready to update an old plan or create a new one to ensure your wishes are followed, call us today at our Minnetonka, MN office at (763) 420-5087 or our Venice, FL office at (941) 909-4644.
If you are not yet ready to put a plan in place and need more information before calling us, then sign up for our FREE online masterclass where we reveal how to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for your family to manage your affairs during incapacity and after passing, while ensuring your assets only go to whom you want and how you want, click here to register for our FREE online masterclass.
And, if you would like to learn how to protect your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs, click here to download our FREE guide Save our Home: How to Protect Your Home and Life Savings From Long-Term Care and Nursing Home Costs.