How You are Remembered May Hinge on Your Having a Will

If you think you don’t have a will, think again. You do.

It may not be the one you wanted, but you have one. It’s the one that New York State (or Florida) thinks you want to have.

You may not like that kinship generally governs the distribution of your assets. You may have a sibling who you have barely been able to be in the same room with for the past twenty years, but absent a will and a spouse, that sibling may be your primary heir.

Or you may have distant relatives whom you’ve never met who are found and notified that they are your heirs, to the dismay of closer family members, or friends whom you wanted to take care of in your will.

And you may not like the thought of your children fighting over whether you are buried or cremated, or if your business is sold to the lowest bidder because one son wants to wrap the whole thing up, fast. 

These are some things easily prevented by signing a properly drafted will.

We have all read about Aretha Franklin’s three handwritten wills, which have now led her children to be in an estate battle that has become so heated that the judge has decided that the estate’s administration needs to be under court supervision.

But the rich and famous are far from the only people whose families are subject to fracturing and division because of a failure to have a will or an estate plan.

A recent article from The Washington Post, “You will die. Don’t exit leaving a hot mess behind,” shares the stories from a funeral services planner in a church, who sees families and how they behave during a time of grief. Two stand out:

A man who dies and leaves his girlfriend of two years the entire proceeds of his life insurance policy. Her adult children had no idea she was his sole beneficiary. They want her to use the money to pay for the funeral, and she says no. When she shows up at his funeral, the family calls the police.

An older man with a much younger wife dies. He had never taken his first wife’s name off of the house or changed the name of his beneficiary on his life insurance policy. The first wife gets everything, and the new wife goes to live with her mother.

Don’t leave a disaster for your family, or put your surviving spouse in a terrible position. Call our office, make an appointment, and leave your family with a sense you were always looking out for them. That’s a much better way to be remembered.