Have you put off making a will? If so, you’re not alone. According to a 2014 survey conducted by RocketLawyer.com, 55% of Americans with children - and 64% in general - currently do not have a will in place.
While preparing a will may not be the most popular way to spend an afternoon, it could be the most productive - especially for your heirs. Without a valid will, your assets could be tied up in probate court for months, possibly years. What’s more, the court will be forced to make decisions that may, or may not, conform to your wishes.
Why are so many people reluctant to take this basic - but important - step? In many cases, it is the result of 5 common misconceptions:
1. I’m not wealthy enough to need a will.
If you consider the value of your car, furniture, and other worldly possessions, you may be worth more than you think. Plus, some items may have sentimental value to your heirs and need to be distributed accordingly. Then, of course, you can also use a will to make legal arrangements - such as naming a guardian for your minor children - that have nothing to do with your wealth.
2. My spouse will inherit everything.
Assets with a designated beneficiary, such as life insurance, may bypass your spouse if he or she is not named on the policy. Also, children from a previous marriage may be entitled to some assets, as are your debtors. Plus, there’s always the chance that you and your spouse pass away at the same time. If so, the distribution of assets can get tricky.
3. All my assets are jointly titled.
Legal titles, such as Joint Tenants With Right Of Survivorship (JTWROS), can be helpful when it comes to transitioning financial accounts. In some cases, however, they can make things more complicated - especially if the joint owner has also passed away and no further instructions have been provided.
4. I don’t have any heirs.
If you don’t have any surviving family members, your assets can still be put to good use. If you want, you can leave them to a trusted friend, to your alma mater, or use them to support a favorite charity.
5. I don’t want my final wishes set in stone.
Updating a will is very common and, because family’s change so often, almost expected. Since the basic framework is already in place, most adjustments are easy to make and can usually be done for a minimal cost.
Please don’t let these common misconceptions keep you from getting a will. Given the vital role it plays in distributing your assets, protecting your loved ones, and making sure your final wishes are carried out, now’s the time to seek out a qualified attorney and make sure you have a legally viable will in place.