WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DIE WITHOUT A WILL?
A friend of mine died suddenly on Easter morning and did not have a Will. Now, there is no Executor in charge of the estate and his three young adult children are not only grieving but panicking…Believe me you don’t want this for your family.
1. No Executor – Without a Will you have no say in who controls your estate. Your last wishes to distribute your ‘things’ to certain people may not be respected. Your ‘intentions’ are not legally binding and a judge cannot enforce them.
2. Financial Affairs ‘On Hold’ – No one is in charge of your financial affairs and cannot pay bills or distribute your assets. Banks may refuse to release information to relatives when there is no estate executor.
3. Running a Business – Without a Will there is no one legally in charge of operating your business after you’re gone.
Dying without a Will is a not only a huge problem but it is unfair to your loved ones. They will be grieving your loss and then must bear the additional burden of undue financial implications from the lack of pre-planning which only makes things worse.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Contact a Lawyer: If a loved one dies without a Will, you must contact a lawyer. They will assist you in appointing an Estate Administrator and will explain the laws surrounding how to handle an Intestate Estate. [Intestacy means a person dies without a Will]. There are lots of lawyers that specialize in Wills and Estates.
1. Make A Will: Preparing a Will is not as complicated as it sounds. There is some help online on how to prepare a Will; but afterwards I recommend that you allow a lawyer to draw up the legal documents. Once the Will is in place it can be updated with a Codicil, as changes occur during your lifetime.
2. Life Insurance: Make sure you have enough life insurance to cover any debts (mortgage, credit cards etc.), loss of income to a spouse, children’s education, and your final expenses. Review your insurance needs periodically with a Life Insurance Broker.
3. Investments: Structure your investments so that there is money available to your Estate Trustee for lawyers, taxes, probate fees and other expenses that may incur while your Estate is being settled. Review your portfolio with a Financial Advisor.
4. Commit to a Plan: Your family will thank you for considering their interests.