Ever considered contacting an attorney in regards to a will or estate plan? At some point or another most of you probably have. However 71% of Americans under the age of 34 and 41% of Americans categorized as “Baby Boomers” do not have a will.1 There is a number of reason why people procrastinate when it comes to having a will drated. Many believe that is an expensive and time consuming process, others feel as though they do not have many assets to protect. As you will see there is simply no reason why everyone should not have a will.
Time and Expense
Most wills can be taken care of in one or two visits to an attorney’s office. Attorneys typically charge less than $500 for a simple will. This sum may seem substantial, but having a will ensures that your family is taken care of and your assets are passed along to the person or persons of your choosing. A will also protects your family from drawn-out and costly disputes concerning your assets. Probate disputes, as they are known in the legal profession, can drag-on for years and cost thousands if not several thousands of dollars in legal fees.
How a Will Protects Your Family
So called intestacy laws determine who gets what should you die without a will. Intestacy laws vary considerably from state to state, but for the most part if you die and leave a spouse and/or children your assets will be split amongst them. Great you say. I intended to leave all my assets to my spouse and/or children anyway; so why do I need a will?
- You Have Minor Children. For those with minor children a will is an absolute must. A will allows you to appoint guardians for your minor children, and trustees to manage their property. You never plan to die but in the unfortunate circumstance that you do without a will, the court may appoint a guardian and/or trustee whom you would not have chosen.
- You wish to specify funeral wishes. A will ensures that your body and funeral will be performed in a manner you desire. Many would prefer to be buried rather than cremated and vice-a-versa. Specifying your funeral wishes reduces stress and anxiety for your loved ones during an already difficult time.
- You want to specify what should happen should you be incapacitated by illness. A health care proxy, also known as a health care power of attorney, allows you to determine what should happen should you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury. Without such a document these decisions may be left to estranged family members, doctors or judges who know very little about you or your wishes. A health care proxy is usually drafted along with your will for no additional expense.
- You wish to leave a portion or all of your assets to a civic, religious or charitable organization. As explained above if you happen to die without a will your assets will most likely go to your closest surviving family member. Many people would prefer to be remembered for their philanthropic contributions. Without all will expressing such desires, your assets will not pass to a civic, religious or charitable organization.
These are just a few reasons why everyone should consider consulting an attorney concerning a will or estate plan. Remember a will is the one thing you really can’t afford to put off until it is too late.