Steve McNair was a star quarterback who played 13 seasons in the NFL. At age 36, McNair was murdered by his girlfriend, leaving behind a wife and four sons. At the time of his death, his estate was worth more than $19 million. As brilliant as he may have been on the football field, he made a serious fumble in his personal business – he didn’t leave a Will.
Why We Need Estate Plans.
A Last Will and Testament provides for an orderly distribution of a person’s estate assets. Specific bequests can be made to friends and family, and guardians named to care for the testator’s children when they’re gone.
The Will becomes effective upon the testator’s death. A power of attorney, however, grants authority to act on your behalf to the agent of your choosing. If the power of attorney is “durable,” the agent’s authority continues after the testator’s incapacity. That authority ends, however, upon the testator’s death.
An Advance Health Care Directive allows you to specify what medical treatments you want or don’t want. You may also appoint an agent to make decisions for you. The directive continues after incapacity, but, of course, ends upon the testator’s death.
A revocable living trust is a common estate planning tool. This trust allows the settlor to transfer assets to the trust while still continuing to benefit from them. When the settlor passes away, the trust assets may be disbursed to beneficiaries, depending on the language of the trust.
What Happens When There’s No Plan.
Benjamin Franklin reportedly said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This is so true with estate planning.
Even when the testator leaves no Will, something still must be done with the estate assets. Since Steve McNair did not leave any estate plans for guidance, his widow took on the role of personal representative for his estate. At some point, his estate assets were frozen until disputes about his estate could be settled. His wife was able to get lump sum settlements to support McNair’s sons while the estate was pending, but distribution of other estate assets was delayed.
McNair had provided a large farm for his mother. Without estate planning that protected his mother, however, she was forced to move. She was unable to afford to live there after his death. An estate plan could have avoided this.
Had McNair completed an estate plan, his assets probably would have transferred to his heirs smoother. His wife, mother, and children would have been provided for financially. In addition to a Will, McNair could have transferred his assets to a trust to allow for private transfer to his heirs and a reduction in estate taxes.
Make Sure Your Estate Plan is in Place.
Steve McNair reportedly had two Wills drafted but failed to sign either one. While his family grieved for his loss, they had to deal with the estate mess he left behind.
Estate planning documents may be the most important documents you’ll ever sign. Let the attorney at the Dillon Law Group, PLC, help you put together a comprehensive estate plan. Call us at 757-962-4796 to schedule an appointment or use our Contact Form to let us know you’re interested. We assist clients in Virginia Beach, Newport News, and surrounding areas.