Brattleboro Reformer: “I’m not old enough to worry about a will,” said one of my clients recently.
Looking at him, you might agree, At 25, he is as healthy as the horses he shoes. As a Ferrier with his own business, he works hard and plays hard. Life is his oyster right now but if he dies, I reminded him, the state gets everything.
“No way,” he said, in utter disbelief.
But it is true. As a single man with no relatives and no will, the chances are quite high that the state would take everything. Fortunately, my client found religion and immediately did some estate planning, including creating a will. Unfortunately, most people will find every excuse in the book to avoid creating a will. Many individuals feel uncomfortable with the possibility of their own death or they take the attitude that when you’re dead, you’re dead, so why worry about it.
You may be surprised to know that most states are prepared for that and have effectively written a will for you. They are called statutes and are used to determine your heirs if you die “intestate” (without a valid will). Each state’s statutes are different and can have an enormous impact on your heirs, especially your children.
If you die without a will, for example, and have children under 18, the state will control who will care for them. Sure, siblings or grandparents are usually the go to choices as guardians, but not always. There are also many instances where a sister or brother may not agree with the court’s ruling. In which case, there ensues a long and costly custody battle with most of the emotional hardship born by your children.
It gets worse. Let’s say you have been diligently saving for your kids’ college education. Without a will, there is no guarantee that an appointed guardian will honor your wishes. They may simply use the money for your child’s support dismissing college as a frivolous expense or a luxury they cannot afford.
Continue reading why everyone needs a will.