Posted By Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. on January 17, 2013
Ben Franklin got it right when he said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I’ll ignore the latter for now. It’s the inevitable death that I want to address in this post.
We’re all going to die. Unfortunate, yes — but true. The only uncertainty of death is the timing. Sorry to be a downer but reality is reality.
People put off having their lawyer draft a Last Will and Testament for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they are too young to worry about it. Let’s put the absurdity of that excuse aside for a moment.
Here are 3 reasons you should absolutely have your lawyer draft a Will for you:
1) When you die, you want to have a say in what happens to your hard earned assets. You don’t want to leave it to chance (or the laws of intestacy). If you want your sister to receive the family heirloom ring that was handed down to you by your grandmother, don’t just hope someone remembers to give to it her — it should be a definitive direction in your Will (known as a bequest).
2) If you want your Will to be valid, a lawyer is trained to draft it properly according to the laws of your state. Don’t make the unfortunate mistake of thinking you’ve prepared for your demise by purchasing some generic Will online or using a software program to write the thing yourself. Chances are relatively good that there will be problems that render the Will invalid and therefore inadmissible in Probate Court. I can’t tell you how many times I have received calls from the family of a deceased person who thought he or she was doing the right thing by choosing a do-it-yourself Will that failed miserably. The rationale for doing so was almost always that it saved them money! Sure, you save the small fee a lawyer will charge you to properly draft a Will but it may all be for naught. It can create one heck of a mess for the survivors you intended to protect. Writing your intentions on a piece of paper and signing them as your Will does not hold up in Connecticut. Generic Wills from software programs and online services don’t address the specifics that might be important given your unique circumstances. If leaving the distribution of your estate to chance is not your intent, call your lawyer.
3) Depending on the complexity of your estate and your intentions for the distribution of your assets on death, there are a variety of options your lawyer will discuss in order to fulfill your wishes. One option might be the creation of a Testamentary Trust to assure that your minor children are taken care of if you have the misfortune of dying before they reach the legal age of majority. Read my previous post on Testamentary Trusts. No matter what the issue, your lawyer’s advice will be valuable in choosing what options are right for you.
It’s a new year, folks. Don’t put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today. (Or something like that). Call your lawyer and make plans to have your Will properly drafted.
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copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.