I think there is a common misconception that a will is only necessary if you have feuding family members and a very large estate. Since we don’t often discuss wills, our exposure to estate planning in popular culture is usually limited to the dramatic reading of the millionaire’s will. Exaggerated portrayal of the subject makes it easy to think that wills and estate planning are for “them,” not for “us.”
I recently came across a news story on Jason DeRusha’s blog, answering the question “Should you have a will?” The article provides some great information, including pointing out that if you don’t write your will, the statute writes one for you – in order to control what happens after your death you need to make a will.
Children are the first and most important trigger in my mind that someone should have a will. Yet, people often don’t come to me to make a will until they have heard stories of (or experienced first hand) the difficulty following the death of a loved one who did not have a will. Most people are unaware of the legal headache that not having a will causes for their family. The good news is that much of the procedural difficulty can be removed simply by having a will.
In contrast to the dramatic portrayal, the reality is that if you have children you should have a will – regardless of how much money or assets you have. A will covers many areas, including naming guardians of minor children, deciding at what age children receive money, naming a trustee to manage any funds in trust, designating who will be in charge of wrapping up your affairs, and more. Writing a will is also a simple process (and – often not as expensive as people assume).
Yes – if you are a multimillionaire, you should have a will. But, if you are the average family, you need a will too!