Why Not Have a Will?

Out of sight, out of mind isn't just an everyday adage—it's one of the reasons why people 50 and over fail to write a will, update a previous one, or make other estate planning decisions.

Why Not Have a Will?For one couple, this important task was set aside for more than four decades. They had a will created when their children were toddlers to name guardians and ensure financial security for the children, as described by Next Avenue in the article “6 Reasons You’re Putting Off Writing a Will and How to Overcome Them.”

This important task is all too easy to put off. However, it’s a big mistake to do so. Here’s why.

You think you’ve time to “get around to it.” However, the last few years have shown, we don’t know when illness will strike. A better approach: make an appointment to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney. Write it down on the calendar and don’t postpone it. There’s no guarantee you’ll live a long life, no matter how much we’d all like to.

You think you don’t have enough assets to bother with a will. Here’s the thing. An estate plan is not just about money. It also includes end-of-life planning, naming someone to have control of finances if you become incapacitated and can’t do so for yourself. It also includes giving someone the power to make healthcare decisions. A Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Power of Attorney can prevent your loved ones from the expensive and time consuming process of having to go to court to be appointed a guardian or spend the rest of their lives wishing they’d known what you wanted. In California, if you have assets that exceed $166,250 and they do not pass automatically at death (like a beneficiary on a life insurance policy), then those asset would go through probate even with a Will.  The Will just states who the executor is and who the beneficiaries are.  Another option is to create a trust to avoid probate all together.

You’d rather not think about your own mortality. Join the club. None of us wants to think about death, dying, or being seriously ill. However, if you wait until you’re too sick to deal with these issues, you may get care you don’t want, prolonged suffering when you wanted to be allowed to die, etc.

If you die without an estate plan in place, your children may be left fighting over everything: whether to sell the house, how to distribute assets fairly, who gets Dad’s license plate collection or Mom’s silver tea set. Some siblings never reconcile after spats over personal possessions.

You think it’ll take too much time. Unless you have a vast empire of real estate holdings, investments and millions, an estate plan and related documents do not take any more time than planning a vacation. After meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney to review your assets, discuss your wishes for the future and review your family situation, the documents can be sent back and forth via email until they are completed. Executing the documents will take another office visit, unless your state permits remote signatures, which many still do. It’s time well spent.

You don’t want to make hard decisions. Neither does anyone else. However, if you don’t, the state will, as your estate will be governed by the laws of your state. You may not like the distributions You can also make changes to your will and other estate planning documents. It’s on paper, not stone.

The final sticking point: you don’t want to pay for an estate plan. This is the problem you, your spouse and your children will run into. If you don’t have a proper estate plan created and the court decrees that your handwritten will is invalid, none of your wishes may be followed. Your family will end up paying more to retain an attorney to clean up the mess, and some of the problems they encounter may not be fixable.

Your loved ones won’t be grieving, they’ll be battling. The cost of not having an estate plan will come out of their inheritance.

The fix is easy. Call an experienced estate planning attorney, make an appointment and get started. You and your family will be better prepared for whatever life brings you. You’ll also enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve done the right thing for your loved ones.

One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like your plan for safe, problem free, and successful transfer of assets to the next generation.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to review your estate plan and identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.  Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.

For more information and articles on estate planning, probate, trust law, and business planning, please visit our website and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Reference: Next Avenue (Feb. 25, 2022) “6 Reasons You’re Putting Off Writing a Will and How to Overcome Them.”

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