I am not an Estate Planning attorney, but in helping people make educated decisions about money, one of the most common recommendations I have is to go talk to an estate planning attorney to write a Will and Last Testament.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments to that recommendation over the years; “We have some time before we’ll need it.”, “I’ll be gone, why do I care what happens?”, “They can fight over what’s left.”, “We know we need to get it done. We just don’t have the time.”
I can’t tell you when you’ll need a Will, but what I do know is none of us make it out of here alive. So at some point there will be a use for it. That said, Prince dying without a Will magnifies some simple reasons why this is important.
Here are my top five:
#5 Time – without a Will, the process is going to run through the court system without instructions on what the person who passed would have liked to happen. Delaying things for the beneficiary's when they may need it the most.
#4 Cost – with a long court process comes attorney’s costs…much more than if the deceased would have just visited an attorney prior to passing.
#3 Feud – money and greed is a nasty thing. Whether it’s fighting over $1,000 or $300 million - mud will be slung, family will become broken, friends will become enemies. All over money. If you think your family is different…think again. Even the closest of families have become torn apart in these situations.
#2 Guessing – without knowing the deceased persons intentions, a Judge will be guessing based upon the information gathered. The judge may have no idea of what that person would have wanted for their money and possessions. People and charities may be left out.
#1 It can be simple – Sometimes people overthink things and then never get around to it. While Prince’s mass fortune could have a lot of intricate estate planning completed, even a simple Will could have eliminated a lot of headaches and given the courts something to go on. Something is better than nothing.
Do yourself and your family a huge favor and talk to an Estate Planning Attorney and get something written down so they know what your wishes are. Death is hard, and the wake of death can be much rougher if financial matters aren’t addressed prior.