Give Your Legacy A Voice
Each year the vast majority of Americans die without having prepared a valid Last Will and Testament in spite of the fact that state and federal laws provide some significant incentives for the preparation of a Will. In many cases, a carefully planned Will serves to actually minimize costs related to settling an estate.
So why do Americans avoid preparing one’s personal wishes?
Four Reasons Americans Avoid Preparing A Will
A Will Is Costly
In many instances, a carefully prepared Will does have some attendant costs. This is especially true where complicated or larger estates are involved. However, a few hundred dollars pale in comparison to the cost of having no Will at all. Without a Will, an estate may face the maximum in applicable probate costs and taxes. In the event of a family disagreement over distribution, legal costs can skyrocket. By the time settlement occurs, hundreds or even thousands of dollars could be lost. In some cases, heirs can actually end up bearing the brunt of out-of-pocket costs. Therefore, a Will can actually save you and your family money.
Distaste For Legal Documents
Many Americans seem to have a built-in distaste, even distrust, for legal documents. They tend to be long and difficult to understand. A Will is easily understood, however, when compared to the legal intricacies that an estate without a Will may experience. Attorneys can provide an easy-to-understand summary of the contents of a Will to insure that your objectives are met.
Too Little Property To Merit A Will
It is easy for many Americans to look around and feel their estate is small and does not warrant the time and expense of a Will. After all, the headlines always highlight multi-million dollar estates. The truth is that every day people die possessing much more than they realize. What may be a modest home today, a small investment portfolio or just the beginning of a savings account can enjoy significant growth in value before death. Unfortunately, where no Will exists the state will determine distribution.
Life Gets In The Way
Finally, it is completely possible that the single biggest reason Americans fail to prepare a Will falls into the “life just gets in the way” category. For some it is simply the day-in-day-out routine that prohibits them from considering a Will. For others, it is the reality that no one plans to die or certainly does not enjoy planning to die.
Creating A Will
While all of the reasons for procrastinating are understandable, none will serve to lessen the reality that the absence of a Will can have a devastating impact on an estate.
Here is a look at what constitutes a valid Will that can stand up under the Probate process:
- A Will must be signed by a person of legal age (usually a minimum age of 18).
- The document must be the product of a person with full capacity to state their will.
- The document must have been created with full intent of taking effect at death.
- A Will must be signed free of fraud, undue influence, duress or coercion.
- Most states require that the Will be signed in front of witnesses.
It is recommended that individuals consult their attorneys to guard against anything that might delay the process of probating an estate. Your Will is your opportunity to carefully articulate your wishes, your values and your legacy.