Isn’t it strange how it sometimes takes a national emergency to get us to do the things we’ve always intended to do, but never quite got around to? Writing a will is one of those items languishing on many people’s To Do lists. (How else do you explain the fact that, according to AARP, roughly 40 percent of baby boomers still don’t have a will?) But according to a recent article on the NextAvenue website, perhaps the daily cascade of scary statistics surrounding the coronavirus will cause some people to finally stop procrastinating.
You can read the NextAvenue article here. And as you do, if you’re ready to get your legal affairs in order, bear in mind that, through our partnership with LifePoint Law, AgingOptions has the perfect solution. Read on and we’ll explain.
Dying Without a Will: The Coronavirus Reminds Us of Life’s Brevity
The NextAvenue article was written by Texas estate planning attorney Brad Wiewel. “Until now,” he writes, “you may have viewed writing a will as something you’d get around to doing someday. But because of the vicious coronavirus, it’s time to treat writing a will as something every bit as important as washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, considering the potential consequences of not doing those things. The pandemic is telling us: You need a will now more than ever.”
Most people know that they should have a will, but many don’t know what a will is and how it works, says the online legal encyclopedia at Nolo.com. “A will, sometimes called a ‘last will and testament,’ is a document that states your final wishes. It is read by a county court after your death, and the court makes sure that your final wishes are carried out.” Attorney Wiewel writing in NextAvenue explains it simply. “Writing a will lets you decide who will inherit your assets when you die and, if you have minor children (ones younger than 18 in most states), who will raise them if you die and their other parent is deceased.”
Dying Without a Will Can Often Bring Unnecessary Pain to Those You Love
But major problems can arise if you procrastinate too long. “If you die without a will,” says the article, “the state you’ve lived in will make these very important decisions for you. And by essentially creating a default will for you, what your state decides may in no way reflect your wishes.” Here at AgingOptions we’ve seen far too many examples of the pain caused when a loved one fails to prepare properly. “It could create conflict within your family and cause economic hardships for the loved ones you leave behind. Also, none of your assets will go to any charities you care about.”
On top of all that, as Wiewel reminds us, by forcing your estate into the courts, you’ll leave your heirs saddled with expensive and complex legal proceedings. Besides the headaches and conflicts court cases can cause, there are legal fees which your estate will be required to pay.
Dying Without a Will: What Can Go Wrong? A Few Hair-Raising Examples
Here are a few examples from NextAvenue of the problems dying without a will may create:
- “If you are married and have children from a prior relationship, the bulk of your estate may wind up going to them rather than your spouse,” Wiewel writes. “Not only could this be financially devastating for your husband or wife, it could mean he or she will need to deal with stepchildren (or your former spouse if your kids are minors) just to receive some of your assets.”
- “If you are single and die without a will, your assets might end up going first to your parents or your siblings if your parents predeceased you. This could happen even if you didn’t get along with them.”
- “If you die and had an unmarried partner, your lack of a will may well leave him or her in an extremely difficult position, especially if your partner had been financially dependent on you. This is because, when it comes to estates, state laws don’t recognize unmarried partners, only biological family members. Consequently, your partner could get evicted from the home the two of you shared if you were the sole owner.”
Two Important Retirement-Planning Announcements from AgingOptions
The NextAvenue article ends with this important reminder: “Life is extremely fragile right now, and the consequences of dying without a will have never been more profound.” So, are you ready to take the important step of preparing a will and other essential legal documents? As Wiewel acknowledges, these are highly unusual times. “Working with an attorney will be more complicated if you aren’t leaving your home or letting anyone in due to the pandemic,” he says.
At AgingOptions our chief desire is to help you prepare for the kind of retirement you’ve always dreamed of having. Toward that end, we want to share two important announcements that are designed to facilitate your LifePlanning process even during this period when most of us are required to avoid gathering in groups.
Our first announcement relates directly to the NextAvenue article. In cooperation with our partners at LifePoint Law, we are excited to launch a ground-breaking new service called the LifePoint Law Emergency Legal Kit. Without leaving your home, you can now consult with a LifePoint Law attorney who will work with you to prepare and sign a complete set of vitally important legal documents including both Financial and Healthcare Powers of Attorney, a Living Will/Advance Directive, a Will or Trust, and much more. Click on the link or call us at AgingOptions and we’ll explain this excellent service to you.
Second, Rajiv Nagaich has scheduled several of his popular, free LifePlanning Seminars in the form of webinars that you can watch conveniently at home. Simply visit our Events Page and register for the webinar of your choice.
Reliable information and proper preparation have never been more important – and that’s our promise to you at AgingOptions and LifePoint Law. Age on!
(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)