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NC and SC Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm

Saturday, April 28, 2018

What Happens If You Don’t Have An Estate Plan?

When you meet someone new, the conversation usually covers the same general topics: family and careers. We love bragging about our family as much as the next person. But when the conversation comes around to what we do for a living, we are much more cautious about sharing our passion. A lot of people are uncomfortable talking about estate planning. Many are even dismissive, believing like Ron Swanson, the gruff but lovable man’s man on Parks and Recreation, that, “The three most useless professions are, in order, Lawyer, Congressman, and Doctor.”

Of the people we meet who share Ron’s disdain for attorneys and belief that formal estate planning is unnecessary, some have written out their wishes like Ron did (he has a piece of paper in his wallet written when he was eight years old that states, “Upon my death, all of my belongings shall transfer to the man or animal who has killed me.”), while others think only rich people need to bother with visiting an attorney. The only thing that convinces Ron he should reconsider his self-drawn plan and seek the advice of an attorney is learning that the government would actually decide who gets all of his belongings if he relies on his DIY will. 

This isn’t something that was made up by television writers. If you don’t have an estate plan in place, the government will decide who gets your property and belongings after your death. The government’s default rules work just fine for some people, but poorly for many. 

For example, if you have step-children they would not inherit anything under the government’s default rules. Your first spouse, however, might have a claim against some of your retirement income. Putting a formal plan in place allows you to make these decisions, rather than allowing the government to dictate who benefits from your years of hard work, or gets that special family heirloom that has been passed down for generations. 

Parks and Rec focuses on the will as the primary estate planning device, but a proper estate plan will actually contain much more than that. Trusts are frequently used to shield information from public view and make the court-supervised probate process simpler. Power of attorney documents and directives empower others to make decisions on your behalf, and outline your wishes regarding your end of life medical care. And burial plans make sure your relatives and the funeral home and cemetery you choose understand your last requests. All of these documents work together to make sure your last days go as planned so you can rest in peace and your family and friends can focus on grieving rather than worrying about whether you would have agreed with the decisions they made on your behalf.

If all of this sounds overwhelming or overly complex, just remember, if Ron Swanson can suck it up and visit an estate planning attorney, so can you! 



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Monk Law Firm, PLLC assists clients throughout Charlotte, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and the surrounding areas.



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| Phone: 803-594-4453
13315 Carowinds Blvd., Suite Q, Charlotte, NC 28273
| Phone: 704-369-9977

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