When singer John Denver embarked on a routine plane ride on October 12, 1997, he never anticipated that his plane would run out of fuel and crash just off the coast of Pacific Grove, California. He probably also didn’t anticipate that he would never get around to drafting a Will, leaving three children and no record as to his wishes regarding the disposition of his $20 million estate.
Just because you may not have a multi-million dollar estate does not make it any less important that you take control of your legacy and write a Will. Studies indicate that nearly 70% of Americans die “intestate,” or without a Will. Some of those individuals didn’t have a Will because they were avoiding a serious discussion about their mortality, while others may have just been putting it off until a more convenient time. Regardless of your reasons, if you die without a Will the courts will determine what happens to your belongings, your children, and your financial legacy. While the courts will make their determination in accordance with state law, there is no guarantee that it will be in accordance your wishes … unless you have a Will.
Simply put, a Will is a legal document that sets forth how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. Through a Will, you have the ability to determine how your property will be divided, as well as the ability name guardians for your minor children in the event of your passing. A Will can also avoid many of the inevitable disagreements among surviving family members by clearly outlining your wishes. Furthermore, a Will is a fluid document, meaning it has no effect until you die and can be changed whenever you want.
Obtaining a quality Will is generally a simple process, often costing only a couple hundred dollars and requiring one or two meetings with an attorney. These normally consist of a brief, initial discussion to outline your wishes to be carried out through your Will, and another to review and execute the documents. While some situations may be more complex than others, the process of outlining your wishes through a well-written Will is always time well spent when compared to the heartaches and headaches you leave for your family without proper planning.
If you do not have a Will, or have one that is outdated and does not contemplate changes that have taken place since its drafting, contact the attorneys at Pruitt & Richardson, P.C. We will be glad to discuss your particular situation, needs, and how best to carry out your wishes.