Q: Do I need a will?
A: Yes. You need a will. It’s as simple as that. Of course, asking a lawyer if you need a will is a bit like asking a doctor if you need to see a doctor. But like doctors, lawyers have seen the worst case scenarios of what happens without some diligence on your behalf. And why your estate might be perfectly administered after your death without a will, there are numerous examples of cases where dying without a will leads to increased costs and unintended results. Without a will, a simple estate administration can get derailed and fall into messy and expensive battles. Unintended consequences occur as the result of lack of planning. And without a will you are relying on the court and attorneys to make decisions about your estate that you could have made for them.
Q: Can I do a will myself?
A: Sure, but are you best served doing this yourself? Do you have experience drafting and probating wills? If not, how much confidence do you really have in the document you put together. If you draft a will incorrectly, it may be disallowed. Remember, no one is going to be able to tell you that the will you put together failed. Is this really a chance worth taking?
Q: What if I have nothing to leave anyone?
A: You still need a will. You don’t know what your estate is going to have in it until you die. And how and why you die will impact the value of your estate. For instance, your estate may have a valuable wrongful death claim in it. But because you did not leave a will, you may leave that value to someone you did not want to leave it to. There are numerous situations where estate planning is imperative that frequently go overlooked. An absentee parent may inherit a child’s estate. An irresponsible child may be given an inheritance they can’t manage. A long term companion may lose both his or her loved one and their home. You may think you have nothing to gift, but you definitely have something to plan for.
Q: Why would you not want to plan for this gift?
A: Estate planning is not a burden. It is an opportunity. Do you really want to leave these decisions in the hands of the State? Take the opportunity to express that the gifts you leave are truly your intentions and not just a formulaic government distribution. Estate planning is your responsibility and your opportunity. Do not miss this opportunity. Plan now.