Do I Really Need a Will?
Do I Really Need a Will? A Will is to an estate plan, like a foundation is to your home. A Will is a great beginning, but there is much more to think about when evaluating how best to provide for your family when the time comes.
Estate planning is a task most people put off, and we all tend not to think about our own mortality, or we rationalize or assume we have more time to get it done later. However, too many times people end up in the middle of a family crisis where an unexpected death or illness occurs, and no plan is in place.
Families are then left in the uncomfortable position of dealing with the emotional trauma of that illness or passing, while trying to navigate the financial consequences of that missing plan.
Regardless of how old you are, there are certain things everyone should put on their to do list this year as it relates to estate planning. As to the first question, Do I really need a Will, the short answer is yes, but do not stop there.
Create a Will: Many times, married couples fail to create a Will, assuming that everything will go to their spouse, or they don’t believe their assets are large enough to bother. Single people assume they have more time, or Wills are for married people, or they can just open an app on their phone and do it themselves.
It’s true that a Will drafted by an estate planning attorney is going to cost you more than a do-it-yourself on line, fill in the blank version. It may also prove to be one the smartest investments you make and provide you and your family peace of mind, helping you protect and provide for the most important people in your life.
No one expects to pass away at a young age, but if the worst happens, a Will can also provide direction by naming guardians to care for your children and avoid uncertainty as to your wishes. No one wants family members in Probate court fighting about who is supposed to care for your children.
Health Care Proxy – Durable Power of Attorney
Complement your Will with related documents: At a minimum, you should add a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney if you become incapacitated. These documents provide authority for someone to make key financial decisions on your behalf, make updates or changes where appropriate, and ensure your health care wishes are followed. A Living Will can also be added with regard to life prolonging treatments.
Beyond that, it’s important to take a financial inventory and understand the implications of estate taxes and risks related to nursing home care, and planning options you can implement to protect your assets for your loved ones.
Trusts can be added to your plan to limit the risk of asset depletion in the event you need nursing home care, or to avoid unnecessary payment of estate taxes by sheltering them appropriately, while also maintaining income and property rights.
These trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable depending on the specific needs of each client, and these trusts can change their status (revocable to irrevocable) when appropriate to help achieve your planning objectives.
So, do I really need a Will? Yes, but remember if the Will is the foundation, you need windows, doors, walls, and the rest of the house as well.
How Do I Start?
How do I start?: We work directly with our clients to complete a planning sheet which you can get by simply calling me at (617) 712-2000, or writing me using the CONTACT FORM at the bottom of this page. The planning sheet that Michael Hurley will send you details the inventory of all your assets, liabilities, family members, and the most important objectives you want to accomplish with their plan.
This is an important time to review retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance policies, bank accounts, etc…to review beneficiary and transfer on death designations to make sure they are current. Often people find out of date or incomplete designations during this part of the process. Given these beneficiary designations are controlling on death not your Will, it is important they are reviewed and maintained over time.
In addition, we work together to itemize real and personal property and the value of those items balanced against any outstanding loans, mortgages, credit card debt to calculate the overall size of the estate (married or single).
What happens next?: Once the planning sheet is completed, an analysis is provided with options on how best to achieve the objectives outlined.
These options will include an estimate of the cost involved along with discussion about how these documents will help achieve the planning objectives.
Which options a client chooses is a function of many factors including the cost involved, how they perceive risk, and for some clients the amount of information and options involved can just feel overwhelming.
At the end of the day, it is most important to get started and do as much planning as you can, understanding that life is dynamic, and something will change.
You asked the question “Do I really need a Will?” Yes, you really need a Will, because where there is a Will there is a way!
Call Michael J. Hurley at (617) 712-2000 to request he email a planning sheet to you. Time and schedule permitting, Michael makes an earnest attempt to answer his own phone. If you miss him, he will call you back at the soonest possible opportunity.