Many young people do not have wills. Why?
“I don’t have the money for a will.”
“Nothing is going to happen to me anyway.”
“I’ll get around to it.”
Pollack Cooperman & Fisher knows it’s important for young parents to have wills, for the sake of their children. It is a parental responsibilty. That is why we are willing to give a simple will package at a steep discount to each person who has had a baby or adopted a child within the last two years.
Many young people have insurance to protect their assets and their family. They may have homeowner’s insurance, auto, health and life insurance. But oddly enough, these same people don’t have so much as a simple will or health care proxy. There’s not even an annual premium on these documents. You pay for them once and forget about them until you have a reason to revisit the issue.
A will package consists of the following documents:
1. A Simple Will
2. A Health Care Proxy
3. A Living Will
4. A Power of Attorney
Do you want to hear something that sounds preposterous at first, but sounds more and more practical as you think about it? Grandparents may want to consider giving the gift of a will package to their children who have just become parents. Too practical a gift? Practical, maybe. Too practical? No. What a relief for the new parents.
WHO NEEDS A WILL?
The State already has a will drawn up for you, if you are a legal adult. If you pass away without a will, it’s called dying intestate. First, the State looks to see if you are married, then it looks down, then up, and then sideways. If you are married, your property will go to your spouse. If your spouse is deceased, or you are not otherwise married, the State directs your property to your issue – your children or grandchildren. If you have no issue, then the State directs your property to your parents, if any is living, and then to your siblings. If you’d like to leave your property to people in a different order than described above, or your wish is to not leave property to a certain individual who might other inherit it by virtue of the above, then you have to make your wishes known in a will. Your goals will not necessarily be accomplished simply by making your wishes known to relatives or friends, or by putting them in an informal writing like a letter or note.
There Are Many Reasons To Have A Will
- To clearly delineate your wishes
- To avoid fights among family members
- To capture tax savings
- To delay taxes for the sake of your spouse
- To ensure your children don’t receive an outright gift before they are responsible enough to handle the money
- To ensure how your funeral and burial are to be carried out
- To leave your baseball cards to the sports memorabilia fanatic
- To leave your ‘66 Mustang to someone who appreciates it and will not just sell it
- Plus, but not limited to, the situations below
- To put your affairs in order after a divorce
Do You Have Children?
If you are married with young children, the single, most important use of a will is to nominate a guardian for your children. This requires thought. There are those who are financially secure, but would they be dedicated to raising your children in a way in which you would approve? There are those who you believe would make good guardians, but are they ready for such responsibility? They may be loving, but do they hold your core beliefs? Do you trust their judgment?
If you think that there is so minimal a risk of your children losing both you and your spouse that you do not need to make provisions for them in a will, then your thought process needs to be adjusted. It may be true that the risk is minimal, but that is no reason not to ensure that your wishes be carried out in the remote event of disaster.
Do You Have A Child, But You Are Not Married To The Other Parent
Without a will, your passing may undoubtedly be untimely in itself but also untimely and disastrous for the loved one(s) you’ve left behind. Suppose you have a child or children with a person who you decided would not make a suitable spouse. Your property will pass to your child or children, held in trust for that child or children, by the guardian. The guardian could very well be the other parent. Would you rather have your property pass to your child or children but be held in trust by someone other than the other parent? This can certainly be accomplished.
Suppose you are married with children, but had a child prior to your current marriage with another person. Do you realize that, without a will, your current spouse will inherit all of your property? Even if you prefer it that way, have you ever thought about making some sort of provision specifically for your first child?
The Son-in-Law / Daughter-in-Law Quandry
My friend likes to joke that he does not like his sons-in-law. He has two daughters, aged 13 and 15, but he just knows he doesn’t like his sons-in-law. What if you really do not like your son-in-law or daughter-in-law? But, hey, what if you do like them, but do not like the idea of your lifetime savings ending up in another family. Here’s how your entire fortune could end up in a family, the members of which you do not even know. You leave your house and your IRA’s to your two adult children. In the event your children pass, your fortune could end up with their spouses. Not so bad, right? I actually like my son-in-law or daughter-in-law, you say. Yes, but what if your son-in-law or daughter-in-law re-marry. Is there even a way to control your property from traveling into strange hands? Answer – probably. A trust can be a useful tool, a tool not necessarily reserved for the very wealthy.
|I am listed as a joint owner on my mother’s checking and savings accounts. Does this protect half of the monies in these accounts if my mom were to require nursing home care?|
Do You Have Someone With A Special Need In Your Family?
Many families have a member who is a case of exception. My niece was injured during the birthing process and unfortunately is confined to wheelchair and mentally disabled. However, my sister and brother-in-law, her parents, have made special provisions for her care. That is a “giveth” situation.
There is also the “taketh” situation. Perhaps one of your issue (children or grandchildren) has proven himself weak to the temptation of drugs or alcohol. Perhaps a certain member of your family has a propensity to harm or abuse those around him or her. Although, I am an advocate of equal treatment, you may just have a situation which, well, requires an override of that policy – a different provision which protects that member from her own self. That could be taken care of in a will or a trust, or the appropriate combination of the two.