In of 2014 I wrote an article following the death Philip Seymour Hoffman expressing amazement about his failure to create a proper estate plan despite having a large estate and young children. Apparently Prince missed that post because rumor has it that he died without a Will! While it is apparently true that many adults do not have a Will, it still surprises me to hear about people who are surrounded by lawyers, financial planners and other advisors, as Prince was, who still manage to die without a proper estate plan in place. I imagine that at least some of these advisors suggested to Prince that he should do some estate planning. So I wondered, ‘why don’t people make a Will?’ In order to find an answer to this perplexing question, I Googled it of course. Here’s what I learned from various sites on the internet:
- People don’t like thinking about death. Ok, I get that – death is sad. But that is not a good reason to fail to make a Will. The point of making a Will is to make life easier for your family when you’re gone. If you die without a proper estate plan, including a Will, your family will not only be sad, they’ll be mad that you left them with a big mess.
- It’s too expensive to make a Will. While it is true that lawyers are expensive and estate planning can be costly, for many people the cost of not planning (taxes, probate costs and attorney fees) far outweighs what it would have cost to create a plan.
- My family knows what I want and I trust them to do the right thing. Really? I can’t tell you how many times two members of the same family have told me ‘what mom would have wanted’ and it’s two different things. Further, even if your family does know what you want, they may not be able to carry out your wishes if you did not grant them the legal authority to do so via your Will, or if you own assets in such a way that they are not consistent with those wishes.
- I don’t have young children so I don’t need a Will. If you have minor children, then making a Will is not just a good idea, it’s your responsibility as a parent. However, even people who don’t have young children should have a Will to designate the person who will be in charge of settling their estate (Personal Representative) and to direct how their assets should be distribute at their death.
Making a Will need not be terribly complicated or expensive. Taking care of this important ‘life task’ will not only mean that you have left your family with a roadmap to settling your estate, it will give you a deep sense of satisfaction and relief for having put your affairs in order. To read more about why you should make a Will as well as to find other articles on estate and long-term care planning, visit the Articles page of our website and schedule an appointment to make your Will!