In a perfect world, no one would die without a will. Not only is it more expensive and time-consuming to sort out your affairs after you’re gone, but it also puts unnecessary stress and strain on your grieving loved ones. With that in mind, here are five answers to common questions estate planners are asked on a regular basis.
Question 1: Why Do I Need A Will?
Answer: Though laws may differ from state to state, when a person dies without a will (intestate), the state is obligated to step in and oversee the disposal of assets and personal property. We should also note that personal finances may be an issue when an adult relative or spouse inherits something under state law. For example, if they are in debt or owe back taxes, the state may have the authority to seize assets when given legal control of an estate. It is for these reasons (and many more) that it is always advisable to write a clear, concise last will and testament that apportions everything, right down to the last penny and personal item.
Questions 2: What About My Kids?
Answer: Because it’s difficult to face our mortality, most of us procrastinate. But when couples have kids, they owe it to their offspring to put a plan in place while they’re still in the prime of their lives. They might have decades of life left to live, but if they don’t clearly explain who they want to raise their children in the event of a tragedy, the state will do it for them. This can lead to all sorts of complications, from family infighting and legal battles to unusual arrangements that are not in the best interest of the children.
Question 3: Who Should Get What?
Answer: It is a sad fact of life that people who love each other often fight over the inheritance. It isn’t always about greed; in fact, most of the time folks go toe-to-toe over items that have little or no monetary value. Make sure you clearly delineate which family member or friend receives certain sentimental items.
Question 4: How Honest Should I Be?
Answer: Your lawyer can’t explain all of your rights, options, and legal obligations unless he/she has a full picture of you personal life. If, for example, you have an illegitimate child or a partner you are not married to but would like to provide for, you must alert your attorney of their existence so that they can be added to your will.
5. What About My Pets?
Answer: Most Americans think of their dogs and cats as members of the family, but they nonetheless neglect to mention them in their wills. As a result, their furry friends could end up without a home if no one is named as their new guardian. The solution? You should set aside sufficient funds to care for your beloved pets in the event that you pass before they do.
We may not have answered all of your questions in this brief article, but hopefully we’ve convinced you that writing a will isn’t morbid or scary; it’s simply prudent and thoughtful.