Statistically 6 in 10 people reading this are wholly unprepared. That is the average percentage of people who don’t have any kind of will at all.
When Prince tragically dies last year, 45 different people made claim to his estate claiming to be related. Normally this would be one of those media sideshows where 1100 people come trotting out with X
demonspawn lawyer who shall forever remain unnamed and proceed to roll out an ever taller set of tales about how there uncles mother once shook hands with Prince and so he must be given 200 million.
If that sounds ridiculous, it’s not as ridiculous as the fact all that wealth was given to the government to do with as it pleases.
That’s what happens when you don’t have a will, the government gets to decide where your money goes and how much they get to keep for the privilege of doing so.
Worse than that is if you have kids, the state also gets to decide which of there relatives or parties given lack thereof is in charge of their future.
The technical term might be “intestate” but there is nothing technical about the concept, you forfeit your rights to the government by failing to take 10 minutes of your life.
There are websites like Legal Zoom and an internet full of lawyers, estate planners and end of life gurus but the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to start is simply write it down.
Take out a piece of paper and write down what you care about and who you want it to go to, it can be as simple as everything to charity or as detailed as where your tic tacs go, the point is you take the time and write it down. In doing so you may even realize that you have things you never thought you knew you care about or that you care too much about things that won’t matter in the end, just write it down and take it as a lesson.
There are two additional steps if you plan to DIY and that is GET IT NOTARIZED You need an “impartial” witness, you need proof and for 10 dollars you get both.
The second is to file the original somewhere it will be found by someone you can trust, a will does no good if your ex burns it and takes everything, if you don’t have anyone you can trust, you can either copy it and distribute it to several people or hopefully find a trustworthy attorney to file it with.
For those that want to go a step farther but get it done write now there is also free online places to create your will like Do Your Own Will .
The most important part is that not matter what else, you write something down “today”.
There may not be a tommorrow.
Earlier I mentioned that the .gov gets to pay themselves, this can be from managing the assets to inheritance tax and beyond. The actor who played Tony Soprano had a will and still lost 30 of his 70 million to the IRS, so this is not the end of the story. Please, please, please, hire someone to do it right as soon as you have done it once, if you have to.
Don’t just open the old Yellow Pages, try a site like Avvo.com to find a reviewed and competent estate planning “specialist” near you.