This video is apart of our Ask an Expert Series where we take the top questions related to estate and end-of-life planning and ask one of the advisors from our Expert Network. This question is answered by Chris Jeter who is a founding partner of MJC Attorneys. You can watch the video or read the transcript below. Got a question to ask? Email us at email@example.com with the subject like "Ask an Expert".
Question: What would happen if I didn't have an estate plan in place?
Great question. In fact, one of the things I've tried to do in my practice as a younger guy myself is impose upon younger couples and younger professionals that estate planning isn't just for old people. I tell people, look, if you don't have an estate plan, then essentially the state decides where your stuff goes.
That happens in one of two ways. There's what we call intestate statutes which say if a person doesn't have a will, here's where all their stuff is going to go. To the extent that there's disputes or unknowns that arise out of that, essentially, we have judges. Judges who are making those decisions, judges who don't know you, judges who don't know what you wanted. They're just doing their best to muddle through it.
I always remind young couples, too, that an estate plan includes if something happens to you and your spouse together, who would you want to watch your kids? Who would you want to be the guardian of your children? I find a lot of couples, they get into fights. They both think that it would be their parents who would be the best. Having those conversations early and getting those intentions down can really, I think, go a long way not only in preserving your legacy, which we talked about, but also ensuring that your family gets behind what you want to do and that there's not turmoil in some of those difficult times. I think it really does apply to everybody.