This is yet another WSJ piece about the heartache, hassle, and time and energy draining experience that is often the result when those close to us pass without a suitable estate plan in place.

Additionally, many people misunderstand the consequences of having a Will, thinking that it alone will keep their estate out of court. Many believe that if they have a Will that there will be a smooth transition of their assets to their beneficiaries. This is far from the truth in many cases, especially if one is in California and owns real property.

It may be helpful to reframe our beliefs about the topic of estate planning in the following ways:

  1. Learn that a Will is insufficient to keep many Californians’ estates out of court;
  2. Recognize that a Will may name a “manager” after we pass away, but that does not address a situation if we need someone to step in our shoes to handle property and finances while we are alive, whether we’re incapacitated or not; and
  3. Become aware that a Will is not going to address health care situations.

As noted in the piece, the couple had an appointment to start working on their Wills, but unfortunately tragedy struck first. The time is now to make progress on this important task. Getting a better understanding is the first step. Then, getting professional guidance about estate planning is key so that disappointment and heartache are not increased during a time of loss.