No one really wants to think about their death. However, death will come to all of us sooner or later. Through estate planning, we can address issues such as inheritances, end-of-life care and more. However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone in Virginia has executed an estate plan. But, they may want to consider doing so, for the benefit of themselves and their loved ones.
First, without a will or trust, a person will be considered to have died intestate. When this happens, their estate will have to go through probate. This is a court process in which the person's heirs will be located, creditors and taxes will be paid, and the remaining estate assets will be passed on to the person's heirs based on state statute. In the end, probate can take a long time and wind up costing a lot of money. Moreover, since an estate without a will or trust is subject to state intestacy statutes, a person's estate may not go to the heirs they would have selected.
In addition, probate goes on the public record. Thus, the deceased and their heirs do not have the privacy they would have if the decedent had executed a trust. Many people do not like the thought that anyone would be able to access the value of their estate, who their heirs were and how much each heir inherited. This may be especially true for those with business assets, which if made public, could give competitors an advantage.
In the end, it is usually well worth the time and expense to execute a well-rounded, effective estate plan. Estate plans also give a person's loved ones peace of mind because they know what the decedent wanted with regards to passing on estate assets. Ultimately, estate planning is an important step that a person of any age and any means will want to take.