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apathy towards estate planningPresently, apathy towards estate planning is commonly brought on by perceptions people have about estate planning. Recently, during conversations about estate planning, the following perceptions surfaced:   

  • Planning for your death is too morbid.
  • Estate planning is boring.
  • Estate planning involves a lot of work in which I have no time for. 

Unfortunately, these negative perceptions lead to apathy that result in the following consequences concerning estate planning:

  • Some people will procrastinate for such a long time that estate planning is completely forgotten. As a result, their estate will fall into intestacy when they perish.
  • People will create a sloppy estate plan just to get through a process they detest. As a result, complications will arise that will confuse the executor and the beneficiaries.

Although there are people who take estate planning seriously, there are plenty of people who are apathetic. Thus, apathy towards estate planning can lead to adverse consequences for the executor and for the beneficiaries of the deceased.

The Consequences of Intestacy

When a person dies without leaving a valid will or other binding document, the estate becomes intestate. As a result, intestacy laws of the state where the decedent resided will determine the distribution of the decedent’s property. In general, intestacy laws control intestate estates in the following ways:

  • The entire estate will need to go through a probate process in states that have probate procedures.
  • A judge or other court official will determine who inherits and the property they will receive. Most likely, this process will distribute the remaining property in equal shares to surviving family members. 
  • Depending on the intestacy laws of the decedent’s state, a judge will appoint an executor. In this instance, a court may appoint a state administrator who will charge the estate hefty fees.
  • If the decedent had children without a surviving spouse, a judge will appoint a guardian for the children.

In most intestate estates, the judge will make decisions based on the life of the decedent. Therefore, the estate settlement may not be too consequential. However, the real consequence of intestacy is that the decedent never formulated their own estate plan in their own terms. If this happened because of apathy towards estate planning, the consequence is truly tragic.

The Consequences of Sloppy Estate Planning

Another consequence of apathy towards estate planning is sloppy estate planning. There are some people who understand estate planning is important, but find the process repulsive. When they finally get around to planning their estate, they do it quickly just to get through the process. The result of such apathy will likely lead to abatement or ademption as mentioned in a LinkedIn article titled The Consequences of Procrastination in Estate Planning.  

Regardless, the inevitable consequence of sloppy estate planning is the chaos that will follow in the estate settlement process. As a result, the executor and beneficiaries will have to deal with the consequences.

Put Aside the Apathy Towards Estate Planning

Finally, it’s important for people to put aside their apathy towards estate planning. Otherwise, they will leave most of their estate to court appointed administrators and tax authorities. So, a person should take responsibility for their estate and develop a coherent estate plan. In the end, more of their property will go to their beneficiaries and their executor will experience a smooth administration.

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Recommended Reading

The First Step to Estate Planning: Estimate Your Net Worth –  The article will get you started on building a coherent estate plan.