Having a valid last will and testament simplifies probate.
Far too often families are shocked to learn of estate planning mistakes or neglect after the death of a loved one.
Sometimes this includes having an outdated or even an unsigned last will and testament.
Other times the executor has died, afterborn children or grandchildren have been left out, or certain items are no longer the property of the maker of the last will.
According to a recent Next Avenue article titled “Mom, Do You Have a Will?,” the chances of these issues is higher for families who avoid discussing matters of death.
Although the topic is uncomfortable, conversations around estate planning can make responsibilities around incapacity and death less overwhelming.
If you (or a loved one) are hesitant to get a last will, you should know there are many good reasons to start your estate planing right now.
When blended families are involved, you can prevent accidentally disinheriting either your own children or your surviving spouse.
Minor children will require the nomination of a guardian (read “backup parent”) to care for any such children to adulthood.
Without a last will, the court makes these choices.
In contentious families, a last will provides clarity regarding who is to inherit what, when, and how.
For those who are living with a partner and not married or for those who are single, they should create a plan for asset distribution.
Many intestacy laws to not provide inheritances to domestic partners.
Intestacy laws govern the estate settlement when there is no valid last will and there are assets subject to probate (e.g., for which there is no surviving joint owner or beneficiary designated).
The rules for distribution vary by state and may leave inheritances to estranged family members!
If you already have an estate plan, you should review (and update) it now to make sure it will work later.
Think about your legacy and how a comprehensive estate plan can help preserve what you have built and avoid unnecessary family drama.
Without a last will, probate can become longer and more expensive.
Are you are concerned about the estate plan (or lack of one) of a loved one?
If yes, although these conversations can be challenging when a person is in good heath, they can be exponentially harder when someone is severely ill.
Demonstrate empathy and help provide options rather than ultimatums.
Most importantly, whether in the context of your own estate plan or the plan of a loved one, work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
He or she will help you (or your loved one) enjoy estate planning peace of mind.
Reference: Next Avenue (Sep. 14, 2022) “Mom, Do You Have a Will?”