When There’s A Will…

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Appreciating Richard Eisenberg’s title, “Americans’ Ostrich Approach To Estate Planning,” Forbes, 

When There’s a Will…

I know I’m not going to shock you with this news: you’re going to die. I don’t know when; and neither do you, nor should you know. Enjoy life; live it to the fullest. Be happy. Love your family and your children. Pursue success; remain diligent and disciplined on your path to success. Improve your talents and skills; acquire knowledge whenever and wherever you are able. And through it all, you do your best to retain some measure of control, knowing that “when there’s a will, there is a way.”

Life is good. The thought of our own mortality is, well, frightening and just not something we have to do yet . . . right? Wrong.

A Frightening Statistic. Over one-half (55%) to one-third (64%) of Americans age 18 and older do not have wills. In a world where the only guarantees in life are “death and taxes,” one begins to wonder why so few Americans actually try to exercise more control over the former. After all, we do our best to minimize the latter.

Here are some common reasons why people say they do not have a will. How many are familiar to you?

· I don’t have “anything,” so I don’t need a will.

· I’m young.

· I’ll get to it.

· I don’t want to think about it/death.

· I can’t afford it/It’s too expensive.

· My spouse and I can’t agree on who should get our kids.

The Answer. Get your head out of the sand. Each “reason” is merely an excuse to avoid the inevitable: everyone needs a will. Here’s why:

· A will allows you to take control over your financial assets and property upon your death. If you don’t take control, your state laws will and everything you’ve worked so hard to build could be in jeopardy. Having a will allows you to ensure your assets and property will be distributed properly – and according to your wishes – upon your death.

· Give your family peace of mind. Help avoid or eliminate family conflict by making specific nominations. A will or trust is your chance to speak and be heard when you otherwise would have lost the opportunity to do so. Who will be guardian of your children? How will you distribute your estate? Is there someone special you want to recognize? Is there a charity to which you wish to donate?

· Reduce your taxes. With proper planning, you can protect your wealth against waste and abuse.

· Fate does not discriminate. No matter how young you are; no matter how healthy you are right now; tomorrow is uncertain.

However, when there’s a will, the way forward is clear.

By: Laura M. Nelson