August 30, 2018 – Is your estate planning goal to maximize the amount of money you give to the IRS, give probate attorneys a huge cut of your assets, leave nothing to your favorite charities, and pit your relatives against each other in family destroying battles over money and possessions? If those are your goals, achieving it is easy, just die without a will.
We will all miss Aretha Franklin. Her music lives on, but one thing her heirs will miss, besides the Queen of Soul, is a will. Reportedly, like Prince, she did not leave a last will and testament. Some people never get around to a will because they don’t want to take the time, or possibly admit their mortality. Others dither because they can’t make difficult decisions about what to leave to whom. Whatever the reason, the decision is costly.
One media estimate is that Ms. Franklin’s estate, by one estimate worth $80 million, will pay $27.5 million to the IRS. Charities might get nothing. Probate court and lawyers will get rich on dividing up the proceeds. We earnestly hope it doesn’t happen, but in the absence of a will and clear instructions, her children and other relatives could get into family-splitting lawsuits.
One estimate is that 4 out of 10 baby boomers do not have a will. Which is a shame, since for most people getting a will is not that complicated. You can write one yourself, although we wouldn’t advise it. Better, you can use an online service like LegalZoom and get a good basic will for a very small investment. If your situation is such that you have many assets, there are estate lawyers who can help you get a will that carries out your wishes easily and intelligently. Not having a will is a terrible mistake, don’t inflict this on your children and heirs.
Comments? Do you have a will? If so, how did you get it – self-written, online, or an attorney? If you don’t have one, what is holding you back, and when, if ever, do you think you will get one?