Those of us who deal with estate planning for a living get to hear a range of interesting excuses from those who haven’t yet created an estate plan. These excuses can range from puzzling, to frustrating, to downright bizarre. Almost none are valid in the face of the importance of having an adequate estate plan—or the severity of the consequences of failing to create one. That is why we are taking on a series of articles addressing the bad excuses for not estate planning. We want to address the ones that sound like they might be logical, show what’s really at stake, and then let you decide if estate planning is really in your best interest.
If You Have Assets, You Need an Estate Plan
You read that correctly. And think about it: everyone is “rich” to somebody. If you own anything of value, whether it’s a real estate investment (or few), a car, or even just a bank account with a high value, that valuable item is a thing your loved ones could potentially fight about upon your death. Eliminate this opportunity for adding petty insult to tragedy by creating an estate plan that specifies who your heirs are, lists your assets completely and accurately (it is particularly important that real estate investors keep estate plans currently with every major purchase or sale), and specifies who will receive what in the event of your death. Having a plan of secession for your real estate business is both good business practice and the easiest way to manage your legacy.
Stars Just Like Us: Even the Rich Screw Up Their Estate Plans
In light of these facts, you might expect the fabulously wealthy to have fabulously well-prepared estate plans. But you’d be wrong. There are so many examples of the fabulously wealthy botching their estate plans. Some—we’re looking at you, Prince and Aretha Franklin—fail to create an estate plan at all, sentencing their loved ones to months and sometimes years duking it out in Probate Court. In these sad cases, attorneys and CPAs clean up, often to the tune of millions, while grieving heirs wait years and risk losing some or all of their portion of the estate to the Taxman or a court ruling that doesn’t go their way.
Other celebrities simply don’t plan for their unique and often tragic family situations. Terminal illness is an unfortunately common example of a situation where estate planning becomes all important. Cases like that of Michael Crichton, who had a thorough estate plan in plan yet died before the birth of his youngest child, show that even an out-of-date estate plan can be incredibly problematic. Similarly, when Heath Ledger died at 28 (showing that you also can’t be too young to need an estate plan, another topic for another day), he had designated his parents and siblings his heirs. Perhaps at the time he didn’t realize he would have a two-year-old daughter at the time of his untimely death. While his family, fortunately, agreed to provide for both mother and child, not all situations with these types of complexities end happily and rarely does the presence of money make any of them easier. The presence of an estate plan, however, can make everything easier on a grieving family.
Fortunately, some celebrities do set good estate planning examples, albeit more rarely. Others simply remind us to make certain estate planning arrangements. The lesson in all of these stories can be simple: regardless of your income level, making an estate plan is always a smart move that can prevent unnecessary complications while establishing your legacy.
Estate Planning Experts Can Help Find The Best and Most Cost-Effective Estate Plan for You
Now that we have thoroughly busted the myth that you need to be very rich to have an estate plan, let’s knock out the related myth that you need to be rich to pay for one. If you have assets, you are indeed at risk without one. For most people, managing the risk and keeping their assets among their loved ones is a worthwhile expense.
A good estate planning attorney will not only be aware of the legal concerns you may have about estate planning but will also be able to break down the process into manageable pieces for you. There are many legal and estate planning support professionals who can ease the process of creating an effective estate plan. Similarly, many of these professionals have multiple areas of expertise. For instance, Royal Legal Solutions exclusively serves real estate investors and also uses estate planning tools for asset protection purposes. So when we approach a client’s estate plan, we are sensitive to the needs of these investors and aware of some additional benefits and uses of estate planning tools that can protect our client at a low cost. Other legal experts may specialize in estate planning and elder law or other combinations. When seeking an estate planning professional, verify their credentials and look into both the expertise and reputation of your chosen pro. Quality help in this area is worth its weight in gold.
Royal Legal Solutions is a pioneering asset protection firm based in Austin, TX. The firm exclusively serves real estate investors and represents investors from all over the United States and Canada. As one of the few firms in the country that focuses on asset protection, Royal Legal Solutions proudly offers the most advanced forms of anonymous asset holding and litigation protection to our client.
Royal Legal Solutions is a full-service firm for investors, meaning attorneys are versed in other practice areas include estate planning, retirement planning, and general practice areas that affect real estate investors differently than the average person. If you have questions about any of these issues, please feel free to connect with Royal Legal Solutions’ lead attorney Scott Smith on LinkedIn or connect with Royal Legal Solutions on Facebook.