Recently, talented actor and comedian Robin Williams committed suicide. Joan Rivers had a complication from surgery and died due to the complication. Both cases provide us with an example of the importance of having a well thought-out estate plan.
When someone dies, it does not matter if they die from a self-inflicted action or an accidental death, their loved ones still must deal with the aftermath of their death, which includes the distribution of their assets.
Unfortunately, many people procrastinate in preparing their estate planning documents. Often they think they don’t have enough assets to warrant even a simple will. But in reality, you don’t have to be a famous actor or comedian to warrant having an estate plan. Remember, the estate plan not only ensures whatever assets you have are distributed to your beneficiaries per your wishes, it also will make it easier for your family after you death because they won’t have to worry about going through the time and expense of probate regarding your estate. And remember, estate planning is also vital to ensure that your affairs can be handled appropriately in the event you become incapacitated and have diminished mental capacity. Things like durable powers of attorney and medical directives can also make it easier on family members when they need to manage your financial affairs and medical decisions if you can’t.
I always tell clients you need to prepare for the worst as if it would happen today. It appears in Joan Rivers’ case that her death was accidental. Even though her “estate” may have been worth far more than the average person, having a lot, or little assets doesn’t guarantee when someone dies or becomes incapacitated. And since no one can predict when something bad will happen, it is best to be proactive and have proper estate planning documents in place. One’s wishes can then be carried out based upon legal documents and avoiding any court interaction.
If you have not prepared your estate planning documents or your estate planning documents are in need of updating, I recommend you do so immediately so as not to have a problem due to a death or diminished cognitive issues.