Whether you know it or not...whether you want it or not...you have an estate plan even if you've never signed one. In Oregon, (really in every state) our legislature created and the governor signed an "estate plan for all." Unless you do something to change it, that estate plan created by the State will decide who gets your stuff when you are gone.
When you die without an estate plan, you are said to die intestate. In that case (which happens all the time), the laws of the state kick in and dictate who will get your assets. You can read the Oregon Law by clicking here. Basically the State has set up a hierarchy of who will get your assets. It doesn't matter if you never had a relationship with the person, if they are the correct relative they will inherit from your estate.
Guardians For Minor Children
Without and estate plan, a judge will decide who will raise your minor children. You have no say in the matter after you are dead. Often times more than one family member will petition the court for custody of children. I have been involved in those cases and they can get very ugly.
Often times there can't even be an agreement on temporary custody while the court is deciding. In those cases the children often end up in foster care while the court case is open.
Make Your Own Decisions (Don't Leave It To A Court)
There is no need to leave these decisions to the State. Creating a estate plan is not that hard, and doing so will ensure that your wishes are cared out...that your children are raised by the people you choose...and that the likelihood of a fight in your family is very low.
If you'd like to learn more about why you should have your own estate plan, please schedule a complimentary Strategy Session with me.