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3 risks people take if they don’t have a will or estate plan

Many otherwise responsible adults in Missouri tell themselves it doesn’t matter if they put off estate planning. They want to convince themselves that there is very little risk of them dying anytime soon, so they delay naming an executor, selecting specific beneficiaries for their assets and choosing a guardian for their children.

Unfortunately, many adults in Missouri fail to take action for long enough that they die or experience a medical emergency without any estate planning paperwork in place. There are multiple negative consequences directly tied to the failure of an adult to establish an estate plan before their death or incapacitation.

Their children could end up in state care

Those with young children who don’t have a will put those children in a very vulnerable position. If a parent dies or ends up in the hospital, their children may not have anyone authorized to provide them with care and support. In some cases, they may end up in foster care rather than living with friends or family who could provide them with emotional support in addition to their basic physical needs.

Their assets go to the wrong people

Missouri has laws that provide clear instructions for the transfer of someone’s property when they die without a will. However, many people, especially those estranged from their families or in long-term relationships that did not lead to marriage, will find that those rules don’t really meet their families’ needs. Intestate succession laws favor legal and biological family members, with spouses, parents and children often inheriting most if not all of someone’s property. Friends and unmarried romantic partners typically have no protection under the law unless someone leaves a will when they die.

They have no protection in an emergency

An estate plan isn’t just about someone’s death but also about the possibility of incapacitation. Someone who doesn’t have powers of attorney or advance medical directives in place may not have anyone to pay their bills or speak up to guide their medical treatment after a medical emergency occurs.

Understanding how delaying the estate planning process leaves someone vulnerable might motivate adults to seek legal guidance in order to address what will happen to their property, their dependents and even themselves after their circumstances abruptly change.