By John Hay
Recently, an article by MarketWatch highlighted the importance of having a Will: “Why you need to write a Will now, even if you’re not ‘rich’”
In my view, the article is spot on for several reasons, including the following.
A properly executed Will:
- Makes life easier on your family after your death;
- Gives you, and not the State or a Court, control over your assets;
- By appointing a Guardian, formally gives you a say in who takes care of your minor children;
- Helps avoiding the confusion on who actually gets what (is your Ex still on your Life Insurance Policy?);
- Specifies trusts that can protect heirs from themselves!
However, the article does come up short, specifically in some of the following important estate planning nuggets. A properly drafted, executed and witnessed Will:
- Is able to transfer Home Ownership with minimal additional work often required by a Title Company to sell the real estate;
- Creates a catchall to obtain funds or accounts you might have overlooked or not had at the time of the execution of the Will. When was the last time you checked out the unclaimed property website?
- Specifies how you want your remains and final wishes handled. While being propped up beside the jukebox might not be enforceable, the amount of strife between surviving siblings/spouses/parents about who “really knew what you wanted” for your burial is as endemic as clashes about money.
Lastly, a properly drafted, executed and witnessed Will package also includes estate planning documents as well-designations of guardians, power of attorneys, medical power of attorneys, and medical directives, among other documents. Translated into regular English, if you were to have a medical emergency, is someone designated to make critical medical decisions for you?