At the start of the year, many of us take the opportunity to look back on past accomplishments and make plans for the year ahead. Perhaps there’s a habit you’d like to leave behind in 2022, and some work you can do to help 2023 go a little smoother.
This year, resolve to tackle your will and estate plan. Not only will it give you peace of mind, it will be a big help to those you love.
“A lot can happen in a year! Hopefully we all continue to be healthy, but death and disability can show up at any time. The more you can do to prepare, the better you’ll be able to handle whatever the year throws at you,” says Iddins Law Group attorney Christian Pearson.
As long as you’re alive, it’s not too late to talk to a lawyer about your estate plan.
“Some people are really opposed to the idea of drafting a will, or assume they don’t need one. While it’s true that sometimes probate isn’t required for small estates, it’s still important to check with an estate planning attorney to be sure,” Pearson says. “If you don’t have a will, Washington state will decide what happens to your estate.”
5 reasons to create an estate plan
- Decide where your estate is going to go: If you don’t declare, in writing, where you’d like your savings and possessions to go, Washington State will decide — and it may not be to the people you like.
- Choose a responsible person to administer your estate: Your executor or personal representative must carry out your final wishes, which typically requires a lot of paperwork, organization, patience and communication. “Select someone who’s going to do the job, and do it well,” Pearson says.
- Make your passing as easy as possible for those you love: The more you can prepare, the less your loved ones will have to do after you’re gone. “Make sure your estate attorney specifies that your personal representative serves with non-intervention powers, so they don’t have to ask the court for permission every time they want to take action,” Pearson says. Without declaring a personal representative, the loved one administering your estate must post a bond as collateral, which is costly and time consuming.
- Avoid unnecessary conflict: You’ve just survived a holiday season of family gatherings; how did it go? “Family dynamics can be delicate. Putting your wishes in writing means there’s one less thing for people to fight about after you’re gone,” Pearson says.
- Help in case of injury: Your personal representative can also help make decisions on your behalf in the event of an illness or injury.