There are some myths about wills out there that I believe do a big disservice to many hard-working folks. If you were to ask any of your friends who have children what they would do to protect their kids, most would say something like “Anything.” And they would mean it. Then ask them if they have a will in place, and wait for the blank stare. There is a big disconnect between “anything” and a blank stare, and I believe the myths out there about wills cause this disconnect. This essay addresses the myths and replaces them with truth. If you do not have a will, this essay is for you.
1. Wills are for rich people
Truth: Wills are about relationships, not wealth.
Like it or not, whatever you possess at the moment you pass on will go to someone. If all you leave behind is a used toaster oven, wouldn’t you still prefer it go to who you want it to go to? Now how much more important would it be if you own a home, a car or two, a closely held business, some gold or silver, some additional real estate? For more information about the real purpose about wills, click here.
2. Wills are for old people
Truth: There is no guaranty that anyone will grow old.
It takes courage to consider than none of us are promised tomorrow. A will is what we call a pre-need document. That means, it must be written, signed, witnessed, and notarized before it is needed, obviously. Once a person dies, a will cannot be produced by the surviving family or friends to manipulate the distribution of the estate regardless of how young or old the deceased was. For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, click here.
3. My spouse will get everything when I die
Truth: Maybe your spouse will get it all or maybe not
Texas has a robust estates code that will distribute the estate of someone who dies with no will. The plan for distribution of estates was developed by the legislature, which means some elected officials made decisions by consensus for how they think Texans would want their estates disbursed. When was the last time you can think of that government officials actually knew what Texans wanted? If you choose to rely on the Texas Estates Code, you should bone up on your fractions, because the Code quickly gets into 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/12th shares and beyond when distributing the estate. For more fun with fractions and the problems the Estate Code presents, click here.
4. My kids will automatically be taken care of
Truth: Your minor children will receive whatever share of your estate they get in trust.
There are two main ways your children will take from your estate if you do not leave a will. The first way is through your spouse. If all of your children, minor or adult, are a product of you and your spouse, then the spouse will get everything, and your kids will get nothing. The Estates Code presumes that your kids will eventually take a share of your estate when your spouse dies. Of course if your spouse remarries after your death, then that plan is foiled.
The other way your children take is in trust. This happens when you are divorced or never married the other parent of the kids. A portion of your estate passes to your children in trust. This means the other parent will accept and use the kid’s portion of your estate on the kids’ behalf. For a discussion of the risks with this, click here.
5. Wills and other pre-need documents are too expensive
Truth: The cost/benefit of wills and other pre-need documents is a huge value.
A robust, well-drafted, and thoughtful will package creates a significant savings for surviving family members. A well-crafted will helps ensure minimal costs in distributing the estate. The supporting documents like powers of attorney, designations of guardians, and transfer upon death deeds can reduce or eliminate the cost of sorting out details of long-term disability and probate proceedings.
Like anything of real value, a robust will package is not inexpensive, but compared to other future planning products like health insurance, life insurance, automobile insurance, and disability insurance, a will is much cheaper and does not require monthly payments. Unlike insurance products that require monthly payments even though we hope to never use the benefits, we shall all need a will eventually. The cost of a will and supporting documents must be compared to the cost of other things we already pay for but hope not to use, and we must also recognize that when a will or other pre-need document is put to work, it will produce a real value to our friends and family. For a discussion of what documents should accompany a will, click here.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm that uses a holistic approach to help people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life. We believe having a thoughtful will package is family law, and we offer a robust selection of testamentary and other documents our clients need to confidently move on with their new lives. This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information, contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go.
Paul Youngblood #youneedawill #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #somedayistoday #collaborativedivorce #beingdivorceddoesntsuck