Do I need an estate plan?
Updated: Sep 23
Bottom line up front: Yes, you need an estate plan!
When you die, your estate must go through the probate process. Probate is a judicial process where your estate is determined and distributed, first to creditors, and then to your heirs. It is almost impossible to avoid probate, but you can limit what goes through the courts. Distribution is determined by one of two things: the intestacy laws (intestacy simply means you died without a will) or your properly executed estate plan.
“But I don’t have enough assets for an estate plan!”
One of the most common objections we hear is “I don’t have an estate.” We often conjure images of a big house on a lake with a high-end car and butler when we think of an estate. The truth? If you own anything, then you have an estate. It may be very small, but you still have an estate. Some of the most problematic probates we deal with are those who thought their estates were too small for an estate plan.
“No, really, I do not have anything!”
You may not realize the true value of your estate, but in reality, it all adds up: houses, cars, trucks, campers, your grandma’s china (that now has a higher value than you may think). These things, when the value is all added together, usually turn into a far larger estate than people originally think.
“My family can sort it out on their own. We all get along.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this. Families have sat in my office and sworn up and down they wouldn’t fight each other, and then . . .. Almost all of these turns occur due to impatience (probate is not a quick process). An estate plan takes a potentially years long process, and limits it down to a shorter, manageable period. It limits infighting and family disputes and helps to ensure that a Court does not make the determination as to where your assets go.
“I am young. I have time.”
The biggest factor in failing to make an estate plan is a dislike or fear of talking about death, or the notion that we have time to deal with it later. But guess what? It will happen whether you plan for it or not. Better to be prepared than to arrive at the end with none of your affairs in order.
Since 1958, accidents (unintentional injuries) have been the in the top five causes of death in the United States, in 2017 (last year data is available from the CDC) it was the third leading cause. Of the 169,936 people in the United States who died from accidental causes in 2017, 40,231 died in automobile accidents, 36,338 died from falls, and 64,795 died from poisoning/exposure to noxious substances.
An estate plan is appropriate no matter your age.
“Ok, I need an estate plan, so what’s next?”
First, simply pick up the phone. Give us a call at (501) 500-3320 and schedule a free consultation (either in person or over the phone) to determine the right estate plan for you and your needs.
Second, gather information. When you decide to use the Davis Firm for your estate planning needs, we will send you an intake form that asks for all of the information we need. This is going to seem like a lot, but that is why we are here—to walk you through it.
Third, once we have the information needed, we will draft the estate plan and then schedule a time for you to come in and sign.
Fourth, REVIEW! We would recommend personally perusing your estate plan each year, to make sure no life changes have happened that year. It would be advisable to have your attorney review the plan no less often than every 3-5 years and make any necessary legal recommendations. Our firm offers a maintenance planwhere we will go through your estate plan each year and verify whether you need to make any changes. Those on the maintenance plan will all receive a discounted rate on any changes. We can explain more about this at our meeting.
Make sure you revise your estate plan (or at least review it to see if needs to be revised) if you get married, divorced, have children, or lose someone.
For more information on Estate Planning In Arkansas,a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (501) 500-3320 today.