There is only one thing that I know of in this world that is absolutely guaranteed and that is DEATH! Yet it is estimated that approximately 70% of all Americans have no will and consequently, have made no provision for the distribution of their property when this event occurs.
Would anyone ever intentionally want their assets distributed in accordance with state laws or by court-appointed persons? Or even worse, allow a court to decide who should be the guardian for your minor children? Certainly not, however, this is essentially what happens when one dies “intestate” or without a valid will. Not only does the state step in and make all the decisions, but it also charges the estate for doing so. It may even confiscate all of your property, when there are no living blood relatives.
With so much at stake, it’s easy to understand why a will is the basis of estate planning. This legal document specifies exactly who gets your property when you die. It can be used to name a guardian for your minor children, and to appoint a personal representative for your estate. In addition, a will enables one to provide for the sale of specific assets during probate, provide distributions to minor children, and make specific requests.
A will is such a vitally important document that it’s crucial to seek professional help when preparing it. A poorly written will that confuses your heirs may be far more costly to straighten out than the attorney fee charged to write it, not to mention delaying the settlement of the estate. Even though a will is written during the lifetime of its maker, it is testamentary by nature. This means that it only takes effect upon death; therefore, it can be revoked or amended at any time prior to death.
If you don’t have a will, you might want to consider getting one. I’m sure your heirs would be most appreciative. One misconception is that some folks think a will is only for the “wealthy”. Not true! If you own any property, regardless of its value, you need a will.
Almost every week I meet someone who had their will drafted in another state and have not had it up-dated since re-locating to Florida. So, when you do get your will, don’t forget to review it every three years with a qualified legal or financial professional and keep it up-dated to reflect changes in not only your family or business situation, but also the tax laws as well.
The One Minute Investor, 2nd Edition