There is an old saying "Where there's a will, there's a way" and I know the context it is meant to be in, but that's not the direction we are going today. Today, we are going to look into what happens to your stuff if you die without a will in place.
What is a Will?
It is a legal document, created by you and notarized, or created through a conversation(s) between you and your attorney as to what happens to your tangible property after you die.
Excuses we delay
- Maybe we imagined the cost is greater than we can afford.
- Maybe we believe it will take too much time.
- Maybe we don't know who we want to give tangible property to.
- Maybe we do not want to hurt anyone's feelings.
- Maybe we believe we do not have enough valued tangible items anyone would want.
- Maybe we will take time to do it "tomorrow" and that date is never reached.
- Maybe your guardians/parents didn't have a will and did not put emphasis on the importance of having a will.
Yes, it does take some time to plan a will. Start by simply writing down items you know you want to gift to certain people or a certain person -- whether it be Grandma's wedding ring or your shiny 2001 Honda Civic. You can Google legal forms and may be able to purchase for a small fee to complete online, or you may want to have a professional help you through the process. Sometimes it may be needed to have another set of eyes reviewing important documents to make certain we have not overlooked anything.
Who needs a will?
Everyone. Single, married, divorced, partners, separated or widowed. Your bank account or the stuff you have in your home is not a factor when determining if you need a will.
Who decides what happens to your stuff?
No legal will means it will be up to the local court in the state you resided in to decide what happens to your stuff --- and who gives them away. Your stuff includes all tangible property, including your money, pets, your house, everything in your home, garage, shed, even to the dusty old coin collection -- without a will, you have no say-so on who gets what.
Verbal agreements prior to your death will not be upheld. All your assets will be frozen. Your 2001 Honda Civic cannot be sold, your Grandma's wedding ring may not be given away to your daughter. Nothing moves. This could lead to a lengthy process, with the person giving away your stuff not winning any popularity contests! (It is a tough job, and most do not want the responsibility!)
Without a will in place, you can see that there could be hurt feelings, especially when verbal agreements cannot be upheld, or assets are frozen, or there is that one person nominated by the court, getting rid of things that other family members might cherish or want to have. Their value system may differ greatly from yours, and the decisions they have to make can be hard on everyone.
How To Start
There are many ways to start a will --- whether you take 30 minutes out of your day and write down a few items you want a friend or a family member to get and then visit an online will creating form or whether you take your list down to your local attorney's office and create one -- it is worth all the heartache and tension you will save your family members. It is not as costly as you may think -- and yes, you can make changes to your will as you need to. Just do it today. Do not wait. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
Consultative Insurance Group, Inc.
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Corporate Office/Olmsted Falls: (440) 235-1442 or (440) 234-0305