A will is the simplest and cheapest part of an estate plan, yet most people do not have one. Individual reasons vary, but they’re typically just excuses. A will can save your family members a lot of headaches after your death. And it can save them money too. David Dedman, a financial planner and President of Lexington Wealth Management, recently wrote an excellent post on the common reasons people do not have a will. Do any of these sound like your reason?
“I don’t have time.”
We’re all busy. But most people have the mistaken belief that making a will takes a lot of time. Reality – a will can be done fairly quickly. It usually doesn’t take more than a few hours of the client’s time and the entire process (with an attorney’s assistance) can be started and finished in days or weeks.
“I don’t want to think about it.”
Most people avoid thinking about dying, but that doesn’t change the facts. Reality – your death is certain, like it or not. And the transfer and disposition of your property after your death will happen whether you plan for it or not. If you don’t make your own will, the State has default rules that will make one for you (and it might not be what you think).
“Estate planning is too complicated.”
Estate planning can be complicated, but it isn’t as tricky as you might think. Reality – consulting with a lawyer can remove a lot of the complexity most people fear. There are more complicated estate planning techniques (typically used for larger estates), but most peoples’ estate plans would benefit from having a simple will.
“I don’t have enough property.”
You don’t have to be a millionaire to benefit from having a will. Reality – you have “enough” property if you own anything, even just a car and modest house.
“It costs too much.”
This is simply a misperception. Reality – having a will drawn up by an attorney doesn’t cost much. Lawyers fees vary, but an individual will almost always costs several hundred dollars. The process of dealing with your property when you don’t have a will is more complex and it must address additional legal issues – as a result, it costs thousands of dollars.
Where there’s a will…
Sadly, peoples’ most common reasons for not having a will are simply excuses that result from ignorance, fear, and procrastination. It’s easy to put off making a will because we generally don’t contemplate the unavoidableness of our death. Ideally, your death is a long way away – but you can’t be sure.
Planning for your property disposition after your death is a necessary part of being a responsible adult. This is especially true if you have a spouse, siblings, or any children. As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you don’t have a will, don’t fail to plan for another month (or year) – make a plan to take care of your loved ones after your death. It’s the right thing to do.