No Will? The Danger Behind Common Excuses

Ah, the excuses people use for not having a Will!

Yes, there’s some expense and time involved in creating an estate plan, but the headache, heartache and expense that comes from not having an estate plan could create a bigger problem.

Bottom line: an estate plan gives your family relief that they know what you wanted after your death, and it gives you the peace of mind that you’ve set things up the best that you could for your family.

Here are some common excuses, and why they aren’t good excuses.

Excuse #1: I’m not rich. It doesn’t matter. If you want to control who receives your assets, you need a Will.  Also, sometimes the biggest fights are over the assets in the smallest estates. In addition to headache and heartache, fighting can chew up more of the estate’s assets than ever would have been the case had the deceased created an estate plan. Worse yet, the fighting sometimes permanently splits up families.

Excuse #2: I’m not planning to die soon. We’re probably all a bit guilty of this sentiment, but who knows what will happen? Isn’t it best to get an estate plan in place, and then continue on with life given the comfort and peace of mind that planning creates?

Excuse #3: My spouse and kids will get everything without a formal plan, and that’s what I want anyway. Not so fast. Are you on a second marriage with children from a first marriage? Are your children young? Are your children financially mature? Do you have concerns regarding your children such as creditor issues, an unhappy marriage, or drug problems? Situations differ. A well-crafted estate plan tailored to your needs and goals can go a long ways towards working around existing or potential future problems related to your spouse and children.

Excuse #4: I don’t care what happens to my assets after I die. Again, not so fast. Family fights seem to be more common when the deceased did nothing to plan for what should happen to the deceased’s assets, and the deceased did not determine who should lead the settlement of the  deceased’s estate.

Here’s an example of the benefit of estate planning: A childless couple with approximately $2 million in combined assets opined that they didn’t need a Will because – under Minnesota law — the surviving spouse would simply inherit the assets of the spouse that died first. While true, they hadn’t considered the next step. Namely, with no estate plan and at the later death of the surviving spouse, the remainder of their combined probate assets would be distributed to only the blood relatives of the surviving spouse under Minnesota law. An estate plan could have provided that some assets would also be distributed to the blood relatives of the first spouse to die. When that reality was considered, the couple opted for an estate plan.

The best practice is to create a comprehensive estate plan that addresses asset ownership and beneficiary designation discussions as well as preparation of Will and Trust documents.

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Disclaimer: This Blog is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, please seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in the state where you live. Wittenburg Law does not expressly or implicitly warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the Blog’s contents. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading this Blog. If you are interested in Wittenburg Law’s representation of you, you must contact Wittenburg Law for a determination of whether your matter is one for which Wittenburg Law is willing and able to accept representation of you.

Bonnie Wittenburg, Wittenburg Law Office, PLLC, 601 Carlson Parkway, Suite 1050, Minnetonka, MN 55305 952-649-9771    bonnie@bwittenburglaw.com   www.bwittenburglaw.com