A young man who I went to church with years ago was killed in a motorcycle accident this past weekend. He leaves behind two young children from a previous marriage and a heartbroken widow (his second wife), as well as an entire devastated family and countless friends. In times like this, I often wonder how prepared he was for the possibility that something could happen to him. We don’t like to think about such things, but think about them we must. And even more importantly, we must plan for and take action on those plans to ensure that our families are cared for should the unthinkable happen.
I don’t know if this young man had a will or not, but in a situation like this one, the potential for there to be a legal battle for whatever he leaves behind is a definite possibility if he did not have one. Here’s why:
His first wife, the mother of his children, would have an interest in seeking provision for the children, especially since any child support he was paying will no longer be there. His current wife would also understandably be entitled to his assets, and also legally responsible for any outstanding debts he may have had. It is easy to see how a situation like this could lead to a long, emotional and expensive legal battle that could be avoided if a properly executed will is in place.
Even if you don’t consider yourself wealthy or as having “anything worth anything,” think about this – do you have:
- bank accounts (checking, savings, etc.)?
- retirement accounts (401(k), etc.)?
- a home?
- a car, truck, boat or other vehicle?
- personal belongings (jewelry, firearms, collections, etc.)?
- family heirlooms or other items of sentimental value?
To whom (specifically) do you want these items to go to? Which items would you want sold to cover any outstanding debts? Who do you trust to carry out your wishes?
Do you have minor children, especially from a prior relationship or multiple partners? Who do you want to care for them? What if that person is unwilling or unable to care for your children? What is your second choice for who will raise your children? Do you want any financial assets made available to your children immediately or when they reach a certain age?
These are some of the questions that will be answered and settled with your will. Just telling a friend or family member will not be enough, especially if anyone decides they want some of what you promised to someone else. A will is a legal document and your wishes must be carried out according to its stipulations. If you do not have a will in place, the state will have the final say in what happens to your assets, your debts and your children.
Over 70% of Americans do not have a will – many because they think they cannot afford it. It can cost several hundred dollars to have a will drawn up by a lawyer, and trusting your final wishes to a will-in-a-box kit from the local office supply store or some legal forms website is risky. But did you know that you can have your will drawn up by a qualified estate planning attorney as a part of a LegalShield membership that costs only $19.95 per month? Will preparation is included in the membership. Also included is a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Advanced Directive. In fact, as long as your membership is active, all of these documents can be reviewed and updated annually at no additional cost to you. It’s all included with the LegalShield membership. AND all of these same documents can be provided for your spouse and covered dependents for only $20 (updated annually for $20).
My husband and I have these documents in place as a benefit of our LegalShield membership, and so do my parents because of their membership. In addition to all the other membership benefits, this one alone provides peace of mind not only to us, but to our family, who know that when the time comes, our wishes are clearly spelled out and there will be no question as to what is supposed to happen. The state will not make our decisions. We have already done that.
If you would like to know more about the peace of mind we enjoy, please let me know. I would love to introduce you to LegalShield. Please don’t put this off. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Contact me. I’m here to help.