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 you should 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.