Although life offers few guarantees, one of life’s guarantees is
that everyone dies. Check any obituary and you will see people who have
cashed out on their death guarantee. You may even secretly wonder if these
individuals had a will or a living will before they died. Unfortunately,
millions of Americans never get around to creating their
last will and testament. For instance, the
USA Today reported that celebrity singer Prince didn't have a will. He left
a sister and several half-siblings behind.
Media sources have reported the family is already battling over the late singer's estate.
Like Prince, people are too busy living to give death any thought, which
is a colossal error in judgment. If you die without a will, a probate
court will distribute your assets. If you are too busy to discuss
estate planning or a living will with an attorney, the following life events should encourage you to seriously
think about finding an attorney to help draft your will:
Major Illness: If your doctor can count your lifespan in double digits or less, then
call an attorney immediately after receiving the bad news.
Marriage: If you remarry and have a will, you will need to ensure the correct beneficiaries
receive your assets. For instance, in
Hillman vs. Maretta, a deceased husband's will left everything to his second wife. However,
he had a life insurance policy through his employer that named his first
wife as beneficiary. After the husband's death, the ex-wife received
the death benefits. The current wife then sued the ex-wife to recover
the payment. Unfortunately, the husband never changed his beneficiary
from the ex-wife to the current wife. And if you don’t have a will,
you need one today to prevent family squabbles. If parents have children,
they may want to create a living trust for their minor children or provide
for their guardianship if both parents die.
Accidents: A fender bender or work related accidental can easily land you in the
hospital. Even if you aren’t seriously injured, use the injury as
a wake up call to draft your will today.
A friend or relative dies without a will: Most people probably know someone who has died without a will. The result
was family members battling like gladiators over mom’s jewelry and
anything not nailed down. Eventually, a judge will have to decide who
will receive mom’s jewelry. Don’t let this happen in your
family. If you don’t have a will, find a
good attorney today.