Did you know that 65 percent of Americans don’t have a will? Worse, more than half of those without a will them also have children. The repercussions, both financial and legally, are massive and can leave loved ones, especially your children, in a brutal position.
The absence of this important document – along with the proper guardianship, powers of attorney and healthcare proxies – could put your assets and your children in the hands of someone you would never choose in any other circumstance.
A quick example: the couple who fled their domineering parents with intolerant religious beliefs were killed in a car accident and the absence of proper estate planning documents placed their children back in the same homes the couple fled (the husband and the wife were raised in similar homes). The children, 10 and 12, had already been raised to accept different beliefs and lifestyles while also being raised in a different religion, were forced to lay aside what their parents had taught them just to keep peace in a home that felt quite foreign to them.
Not only that, but the children will not see the money their parents had been saving for college and first cars because their grandparents felt they should choose the spouses of their grandchildren and also felt a car was an unnecessary “exorbitant waste of money”.
It’s both unfair and unacceptable for most of us, but that’s barely scratching the surface. There are other things that can also result in family meltdowns too.
Anytime family is involved, and especially one that has deep-rooted problems, there are bound to be differences of opinion in an already overwhelming time such as a death in the family. Choosing the right executor might make part of the family angry, but it at least ensures your wishes are met. Naming a guardian is crucial for young parents and selecting the right executor is a definite must, no matter if there are young children or not. In some instances, the solution is as simple as naming an executor who is not part of the family. A close and trusted friend can often be just the right choice that at least keeps the family from breaking further apart. Not only that, but the executor is bound by your wishes and your friends are less likely to bend from pressure of other family members.
Another important truth that many be overlooked: The belief that their estate isn’t big enough to require a will. Let’s say a loved one passed away with $6,000 in the bank. His only heir was one daughter who is an addict. If there’s no estate plan, that $6,000 could become a suicide mission for the addict. By taking a bit of time before the loved one passed and naming someone else to receive the assets – even if they don’t feel there are enough to justify the process – could mean that $6,000 is used for drug rehab. And before you dismiss that scenario, you should know it happens more often than anyone realizes. It’s crucial to keep a valid will or a living trust. Otherwise, you’ll have no control over who will inherit your possessions.
The truth is, there is always something that goes terribly wrong when there are no legal documents outlining a person’s final wishes. It doesn’t guarantee that families come together, a will can at least keep the families from becoming even further estranged.
To learn more about creating a will and other important estate planning documents, contact our offices today.