Do you ever have that aching feeling after stepping onto a plane, wondering if you were to die with no will in place, what would happen to your things? This happens all the time. They say that 65% of Americans do not have a Will. That is a lot of people who are unprepared.
What are some of the pitfalls of not having a Will? Here are the top 5:
1. More expense for the family – attorneys and court fees can pile up. The probate process can run anywhere from 2% to 9% of the Estate.
2. Assets to the wrong people – there are many ways this could happen: somebody gets access to the funds right away, and they just pull money out without anyone’s permission; assets can go to your estranged spouse or children because they are your legal “heirs”; assets can go to a second spouse, and when he/she dies, the remaining assets only benefit the second spouse’s family. Nothing goes to the children of the decedent’s first marriage.
3. Time consuming – going through the probate process is about 18 to 24 months. The family would have to wait to complete the probate process in order to get the funds.
4. Public Record – when a probate estate is opened, it must be published in the newspaper. Anyone can look at the court records, see who the beneficiaries are, where they live, and how much they will inherit. Often people will contact the decedent’s families to take advantage of them when they are in a very vulnerable state. They may pretend to be a creditor of the Estate and request checks to be sent out. The family may also be scammed into investing into random schemes because they are not very financially savvy to begin with.
5. Broken relationships – This is almost standard when a family goes through an unexpected death, without any estate planning documents in place. Families become different people when money is at stake. In an instant, old grievances surface, people’s expectations become radically different, and certainly outside influences such as in-laws can inspire additional conflicts.
Although families should be binding together in their grief over the death of a loved one, often certain members of the family have their eyes on one thing…. the money, and when they can get their hands on it.
So the next time you are going on a trip, remember that aching feeling of getting on the plane. Go see a qualified estate planning lawyer in Barrington, IL and get things written down. Hopefully you will not need the plan to be carried out for a long time, but since none of us have that crystal ball, why not just have everything prepared?….just in case.
Thanks to Bott & Associates, Ltd. for their insight into estate planning and fear of flying.