Simply put if you don’t have an estate plan, you and your family will lose control over how your affairs are handled if you become incapacitated during life or when you pass away.
If your name is on the title of your assets and you can’t conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity, only a court appointee can sign for you. The court, not your family, will have ultimate control over how your assets are used to care for you through a conservatorship or guardianship. It can become expensive and time consuming, and it can be difficult to end even if you recover.
If you die without an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. In Georgia, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a certain share of the estate assets. The size of the shares depends upon the number of children you have. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die – for example in a car accident – the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen. And remember, it necessary to update your estate plan.
Estate plans are not a one-time event but an ongoing process. You should review your plan and update it as your family, financial situations, and state and federal laws change over time. This can involve the help of your estate planning attorney, financial adviser, insurance agent, human resources manager, and other advisors, but remember that legal work should always be done by a qualified attorney.