No Will? You’re Not Alone. But Not Having One Can Lead to a Lot of Problems
Some people pass away without having a Will in place. In some cases that may not result in a long, drawn-out battle in the courts. But more often than not, it does.
Guess what these famous people had in common when they died?
1. Michael Jackson
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. Bob Marley
4. Howard Hughes
6. Sonny Bono
7. Jimi Hendrix
That’s right, they all died without a Will. For some of these people, the battle in the courts over their estate lasted years – even decades.
Even if you do not have a lot of assets, one of the most basic life-plans you should make is creating a Will. After all, without a Will, there will be no one to truly determine what you intended to leave to whom. This means that your loved ones (maybe even those you do not love) will go through a court process called Probate to try to persuade a judge that they should get an inheritance.
It could be, too, that people not related to you may make claims on your estate. Not to mention the fact that Probate can take a long time, can add costs to the settlement of your estate and can dwindle down the value of the assets you worked so hard for.
A Will is the most basic of tools to dictate your wishes. But even if you have a Will, the Probate process kicks in when you pass away. If your Will in unclear, or if it was created in a manner that does not meet your state’s laws, it can cause problems and delays. Also, a Will can be contested.
There are, however, Estate Planning options that allow you to avoid Probate – and that’s just one advantage of having legal Estate Planning documents in place.
Other benefits include:
- You can shelter your assets
- You can minimize estate taxes
- You can leave more of your assets to your heirs
- You can customize an inheritance plan or special needs plan for specific loved ones
- You can create gifting programs that take advantage of tax-saving options
Since laws, rules and options change all the time, your very best resource for Estate Planning is an attorney who is specially trained in Estate Planning. Also, he or she will customize a plan just for you – no “boilerplates” – since no two estates are alike.
It’s wise to have a Will. It’s even wiser to have an Estate Plan.