Prince was one of the most famous individuals of the 21st Century who seemed to have it all…except for one thing: a will. A lot of people were surprised that Prince died without a Will, but I wasn’t.
A poll recently indicated that 64% of Americans don’t have a Will. Why don’t they have one? About 27% said there wasn’t an urgent need for them to make one; 15% said they don’t need one at all (because they mistakenly believed that Wills are only necessary if you have a multi-million dollar estate); 26% said that it was too costly for them to have a Will; 13% stated that they were under the impression that a Will wasn’t needed because they believed (in error) that their spouse and children would automatically inherit their assets; 6% said that it was too time-consuming; and 13% stated that they were worried if they made a Will, they would die soon thereafter.
What all of this indicates is that most people believe making a Will is painful. I understand that Wills force all of us to come to grip with the fact that one day, we’ll pass away, and that’s not exactly something that any of us would like to think to about. Nonetheless, as the article set forth indicates, it’s foolish for anyone to make the same mistake that Prince made – everyone should have a Will. Jimi Hendrix, Howard Hughes, Sonny Bono, Pablo Picasso, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, Martin Luther King and even one of our Presidents (who was a lawyer!) Abraham Lincoln died without a Will.
The fact of the matter is that everyone needs a Will and if you don’t have one, the following will occur:
- Your assets will be distributed in accordance with the laws of the State in which you reside at the time of your death. If you’re married with children, most States provide that your spouse will not receive all of your assets. Rather, your assets will be divided among your spouse and your children.
- The share of your estate that will be paid to your children will, in most States, be distributed to them at age of 18. Most children aren’t ready at the age of 18 to receive their inheritance. Therefore, there’s a good chance that the assets they receive won’t be prudently invested (rather, they may be recklessly spent).
- Probate will come into play. The American Bar Association recently estimated that probate costs Americans two billion dollars ($1.5 billion went to the payment of attorney’s fees).
- Estate taxes won’t be minimized. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Happy Anniversary! Estate Tax Turns 100,” it was pointed out that estate planners label the estate tax as a “voluntary” tax, meaning the planning techniques can reduce or eliminate the tax. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible if you don’t have a Will.
Estate plans aren’t expensive when you compare them with the taxes and costs that come into play when someone dies without a Will.
So, don’t be like Prince. If you don’t have a Will, call an estate planning attorney. In doing so, you’ll reduce taxes that could be due; you’ll decide who the beneficiaries of your estate will be and when they will receive their inheritance; and you’ll be able to avoid probate.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other estate planning questions, please contact Maurice Offit at email@example.com or 301.575.0308
ABOUT MAURICE OFFIT
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Maurice Offit is an estate planning and asset protection planning attorney. Mr. Offit counsels a large number of clients who share an interest in minimizing estate taxes and protecting their assets from the claims of creditors.
Mr. Offit has more than thirty years of experience with a focus on estate planning, estate and trust administration, and asset protection planning for his clients. While no two plans are exactly alike, Mr. Offit makes sure that they have one thing in common – they meet with the client’s satisfaction and approval.
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