It’s never too late…
Almost everyone intends to write a will, but the majority of people never do. The most common reason may surprise you: it isn’t usually lack of money, knowledge, or opportunity. It’s a matter of time.
There’s too much time! Taxes have to be done by April. Bills have to be paid by the end of the month. But you have your whole life to write your will. Since most people don’t know how long that is, the natural tendency is to put it off in favor of more pressing obligations.
Don’t Assume It Will All Work Out
Those who die without a will leave their affairs in the hands of courts governed by state “laws of descent and distribution.” While these laws were written to be as fair as possible, there is no way they can take into account every possible individual situation. They have to be general enough to apply to everyone. This can pose many problems for families with special needs. The excessive red tape and delays can be expensive and frustrating to a family already under an emotional strain.
For example, some states require that without a will the children’s share of the deceased parent’s estate be put in trust until they reach a certain age. The other parent may have to petition the court for funds for the children beyond the usual expenses. In most cases, the deceased parent would have preferred that the spouse have access to the funds without this extra effort.
Some people assume that because they have supported a good cause on a regular basis, a portion of their estate would automatically be set aside to continue that support. This can only happen if there is a will or some kind of contractual arrangement.
You Can Make Special Bequests
In fact, only with a will can you include anyone outside your family in your estate. You may have special items, such as a collection, that you would want to leave to someone who shared your interest. This may be a friend or acquaintance rather than a relative. Your will gives you the opportunity to make as many such gifts as you want.
You Can Also Name a Personal Representative
If you don’t write a will, the court will appoint an administrator to settle your estate and require that a fee be paid for this service. However, when you write your will, you can name your own personal representative. This can be a relative or friend who will perform the same service and with more knowledge and consideration of the people involved. A will also gives you the opportunity to waive the bond which otherwise will be an expense of the estate.
You Can Setup an Income for Another Person
Through a testamentary trust (a trust within your will), you can set up an income for someone who may not be capable of managing a large sum of money. Income from the trust can be used to support someone for life, with the remainder of the trust distributed at that person’s death. The remainder beneficiary could be children, grandchildren, or a charitable organization such as ours.
What’s the First Step?
Make an appointment with an attorney who specializes in estate planning. He or she can advise you and help you put your plans into the proper legal language. The fee is well worth the satisfaction of having your will recognized as a legal document in court. The trust department of your bank can give you the names of several attorneys who specialize in estate planning. Please contact us if you have specific questions or you would like additional information before calling an attorney. There is no obligation on your part.