Life moves fast, and before an Arkansas resident can believe it, their kids may be out of the house, and they may be considering retirement. The years of living that happen between childhood and retirement can be a blur of love and challenges and many adults deprioritize their own needs for the sake of their families, careers, and friends. However, there is one important matter that all Little Rock adults should think about as they move forward in life: estate planning.
An estate plan is a collection of legal documents that provides instruction on how a person wants their medical care, financial matters, and property issues resolved as they reach the end of their life. Estate planning documents can cover the time preceding a person’s death and their death, and without one an individual’s wishes about these and other important matters may remain unknown.
Dying without a plan in place
When an Arkansas resident dies without a will, their estate will pass according to the state’s intestate succession laws. This means that the decedent’s kids, and then spouse, may inherit their property upon their death. If a child, child’s heir, or spouse does not survive the decedent, then the decedent’s property may pass up to their parents, down to their siblings, and throughout their family tree until a beneficiary is found.
While intestate succession keeps property and assets within a family, this can be problematic if the decedent did not want their relatives to benefit from their end of life estate. Dying without a plan in place deprives a person of having a say in how their assets are distributed at the time of their death.
What goes into an estate plan?
An estate plan is not one thing. As mentioned, it is a collection of legal documents that provides insights into a decedent’s preferences and desires about how their affairs will be managed when they are no longer around to share them. Depending on what a person wants to accomplish, their estate plan can be simple or complex.
A will is a foundational document in estate planning, and individuals can also elect to execute different types of trusts to pass property to others outside of the probate process. Additionally, health care and general business powers of attorney grant rights to named parties to help manage the affairs of an incapacitated person while they are unable to care for their own needs.
Estate planning is for everyone, and now is a good time to start the planning process. For those who have estate plans in place, it is also a good time to review existing estate plans to ensure they are up to date and reflect their creators’ wishes.