"You Don't Have to be Rich" to Need a Will
• James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano)
• Jimi Hendrix
• Aretha Franklin
What do these four people have in common? Legendary entertainers, fame, fortune, and……..the absence of a properly executed will when they passed.
What does a will give you? It gives you legally binding, sole discretion over the distribution of your assets upon your death.
What if you don’t have a will and you pass away? You die intestate and the state will oversee the distribution of your assets. Often this means that half of your assets go to your spouse and the other half go to your children. This is further complicated if the children are minors as someone will need to assume responsibility of ensuring the children’s best interests are kept until the age of majority.
And how many 18 year-olds will handle a sudden lump sum of money arriving at their feet well? I have witnessed a couple of those situations and they were not handled well.
A properly executed will can take as much emotion out of the process of your passing as possible. Emotions can be a draining liability in these situations and if there is a clearly defined path about how the assets are to be distributed, then theoretically that should reduce any fighting between those that feel entitled to your assets.
Prince’s death occurred 3.5 years ago and there still has not been a single tax paid or disbursement received by any of his six siblings (the heirs to the fortune).
It took Hendrix’s estate until 2015 (45 years) before a settlement was finally worked out over feuding siblings. That is sad to consider and completely unavoidable.
You don’t have to be rich to need a will. In fact, each of you that read this and each person that you know should have a properly drafted will, power of attorney and medical directive document drafted by an attorney who specializes in estate planning.
Let us know if you need an introduction to a couple of attorneys to consider.