As average Americans, we work 80,000 hours in a lifetime, or 45 to 55 years. In spite of all our resources and the assets we earn during our lifetime, the vast majority of Americans do not take the time to create the legal instructions to guide the court or a guardian. National statistics indicate that more than 50% of Americans die without leaving a Will.
Where there’s No Will …
The result can be lengthy delays in the distribution of your estate, court battles between relatives and your children being raised by someone you do not favor. Your assets go to whoever a state law says receives the assets, or to the government itself! A Will should be a statement to the things you truly care about: your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, and your charities.
If you leave no Will or your Will is declared invalid because it was improperly prepared or is not admissible to probate:
1. People you dislike or people who dislike and ignore you may get your assets.
2. State law determines who gets assets, not you
3. Additional expenses will be incurred and extra work will be required to qualify an administrator-Surety Bond, additional costs and legal fees
4. You lose the opportunity to try to reduce Estate Tax, State inheritance taxes and Federal estate taxes
5. A Judge determines who gets custody of children. A greedy brother or crazy mother in law could ask the court for custody.
6. If you have no spouse or close relatives the State may take your property
7. The procedure to distribute assets becomes more complicated
8. It probably will cause fights and lawsuits within your family
When loved ones are grieving and dealing with death, they shouldn’t be overwhelmed with Financial concerns. A Will must not only be prepared within the legal requirements of the state Statutes but should also be prepared so it leaves no questions regarding your intentions.
Think- Who don’t you want to receive your assets? Without a Will, they could receive your assets and request custody of children.
Who is not the best choice to raise your children, or safeguard your children's money for college? Do you want children, or grandchildren, to get money when they turn 18? Will they invest money wisely, or go to Seaside and play games?
Sometimes it is not wise to leave children as a beneficiary of life insurance and your pension if your children are under the age of 21. You could make your estate the beneficiary of life insurance, and pension, then direct in your Will that the money be used to provide support and college expense for children.
The Will setting up a trust for minors should provide that any portion of my residuary estate which becomes distributable to a beneficiary under the age of twenty-one (21) years shall be held as a separate trust by the Executor until such beneficiary attains the age of twenty-one (21) years. The Executor shall apply such amounts of income and principal as he, in his sole discretion, deems proper for the health, maintenance, education, welfare, or support of such beneficiary and shall accumulate any unexpended income not needed for the above purposes, paying and transferring the portion held in trust to the beneficiary upon his or her attaining the age of twenty-one (21) years. Prior to their attaining the age of twenty-one (21) years, the Executor may apply such income or principal for benefit of such beneficiary directly or by payment to the person with whom such beneficiary resides or who has the care or control of such beneficiary without the intervention of a guardian.