I recently began practicing Estate Planning Law, and within the first week, I realized I had no idea just how crucial it is to properly plan out your estate.

Yes, you can Google a Will off the internet and use that to create yourself a Will, but it likely will not save your loved ones from having to file a probate action anyway because one of your assets was not properly addressed/distributed in that Will.

Since realizing the importance of proper Estate Planning, I have asked many people if they have set up their Estate Plan. The response I typically receive is, “No”, followed by “Oh, I’ll do that later” or “That’s not really for me” or “I don’t have a lot of money” or “I’m not really old enough to worry about that”. Well I can assure you that none of that is true.

The recent unexpected hurricanes and earthquakes demonstrate the importance of setting up your Estate Plan NOW. Estate Planning is not just for people that are older and possibly coming closer to a close in their life- it is for everyone at any age and stage of their life. Unexpected things can happen every day and if you are prepared and have your estate planned out, you are saving your loved ones from additional heartache and unnecessary expenses.

We recently had a call from a gentleman whose mother created a will and other Estate Planning documents, however she did not want to pay an additional expense of $250.00 to create a Life Estate for her property. Unfortunately, a few months after executing all of her Estate Planning documents, she passed away. Everything was covered in her Estate Plan except for her property. The family will now have to open a Probate Action at the cost of roughly $2000.00 to $3500.00 to be able to have the rights to that property.

So what are the costs to your loved ones for not properly planning your estate? It’s not only monetary, it’s emotional pain and anguish. If your loved ones have to open a probate action for your estate, that could take months to in some cases years to resolve. It can not only be expensive, but it is a constant reminder of your passing on your loved ones. As William Blade always says if you Fail to Plan… you Plan to Fail.

-Kelly M. Williams, Esq.