Next Avenue’s recent article entitled “Mom, Do You Have a Will?” says that many older adults and their children don't want to talk about death. Of course, you could simply ask your parents about their wishes. How do you make sure the transition after they have died is uncomplicated?
If you die with very few assets, and you only have one child, you may not need a will. However, if you want to leave something to a charity or a dear friend, you’ll need one. If you have more assets or more children, you should hire an experienced estate planning attorney to help.
If your parent is a part of a blended family it is even more important. That is because you want to avoid either a full or partial disinheritance of a surviving spouse or their children. It’s also important to prepare a will and appoint guardians, if there are minor children or adult children with special needs.
Wills are especially important if heirs might fight over the estate, or if you want certain assets to go to specific people.
In addition, single people should have a plan for their assets, especially if they’re in a committed relationship but not married. That’s because state inheritance laws don’t provide for a domestic partner to inherit.
A will is an important first step to make certain that a relationship is recognized before a loved one passes away, so the remaining partner can access their right to property or benefits.
If you die without a will, a situation known as intestate succession, your assets may be distributed according to state probate law. That schedule may differ from what you would want.
When asked if they have a will in place, some older adults will say they’re prepared. However, in truth they aren’t prepared at all. They may have a will that’s old and no longer relevant to their current situation or may have not signed or filed their will and other important estate planning papers.
Clarifying the status of older adults' wills is critical to a smoother transition of assets and should be addressed when they’re of sound mind and clearly able to make their own decisions about their estates.
Reference: Next Avenue (Sep. 14, 2022) “Mom, Do You Have a Will?”