Estate planning represents proactive steps to provide your loved ones with peace of mind. Without formalized documents that communicate your wishes, relatives are left to interpret the actions you would have taken.
Chaos can easily ensue. In addition to grief over the tragic loss, family members may find themselves at odds, claiming their rights to valuable possession or bank accounts. A loved one may claim promises made after supposed conversations. A relative who took care of the late family member could claim entitlement to receive a portion of, if not all, of the assets.
Clarity is paramount
Avoiding these types of disputes requires specific and sometimes uncomfortable steps. Not everyone is going to be happy with the final documents. Making your wishes known may not necessarily prevent all chaos, but it clearly communicates your expectations and determines who gets what.
Far too many people think that creating these documents that effectively surround your death is some form of curse. An estate plan does not mean that your death is imminent. Few, if anyone taking these much-needed legal steps, want to think of a time when they are no longer alive. Pondering your last breath is something no one wants to do.
The value of assets, or lack thereof, should not discourage you from taking action sooner rather than later. Wills and estate plans are about communication when you can no longer communicate, not the number or value of assets that you may or may not have. The most modest estate requires a plan.
The sooner you start the process, the sooner you bring clarity to your family now and in the future when you are no longer around.