As summer kicks off and you start planning summer vacations and long weekends with your family, setting aside the time to complete your will is also worthy of your time. This basic estate planning tool can be a relatively quick process and can be a cost-effective way to save time, money, and frustration for the family you care about.
About two-thirds of Americans don’t have wills. Surprisingly, people over age 65 are twice as likely to avoid estate planning as those who are younger.
Oftentimes, failing to make a will comes down more to lack of planning than a lack of funding. For example, Prince, James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all had the resources to pay for the most basic estate planning tools, but none of them took the time to set up a will or trust.
People without a will generally fail to see the significant consequences of their lack of planning. Unlike failing to prepare for retirement or failing to purchase flood insurance prior to a 100-year flood, dying without a will is a consequence-free event for the deceased.
However, it is anything but consequence-free for the survivors, who are often left to cope with a financial crisis on top of the emotion pain of just having lost someone they love.
Not having a will impacts surviving family members in several ways:
· Excessive demands on their time
· Increased complexities and costs to the estate
· Strain on family relationships
· The need to make decisions about treasured family heirlooms
There is no upside to survivors when someone dies intestate—dying without a will in place. There is only pain, heartache, headaches and additional turmoil.
Coping with a loved one's death and carrying out their last wishes is often hard enough, let alone struggling with what can be described as "Would-Have-Estate-Planning,” trying to figure out what the deceased "would have" wanted.
The process of making a will can be challenging, but it’s not an insurmountable task. Sorting through the necessary decisions about one's legacy requires reflection, and an assessment of what really matters in life. And this may be the deeper reason why so many of us avoid estate planning.
However, we all have to face the reality that the whole process only matters for one reason: one day we’re all going to die!
You might be tempted to respond “that’s none of your business" when a spouse, child or sibling asks if you have a will. But that is not true. It may actually be more their business than it is yours!
Your estate planning, or lack of it, will impact your survivors far more than yourself. Remember – you’re already dead!
Having the courage to face this reality, to address these issues and to engage in the process can dramatically reduce the pain and turmoil for the people you care about.
Making sure you have a basic will prepared is absolutely essential to your financial plan. To get even further into estate planning, you can read more in our article Should I Be Using a Will or a Trust?
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