So it’s Christmas time, and we are all consumed with caring for and about our families. Perhaps this is the perfect time to finish talking about what happens to our families when we pass and what we can do now to help them.
Last week I wrote about how many people do not have wills and the unexpected and catastrophic consequences that often occur. These consequences include the State deciding who gets your assets and when, the bitter disputes tearing families apart and the costs of expensive probate proceedings.
I pleaded with you all to get a will and avoid these consequences.
So today we’re going to talk about how easily and cheaply this can be done.
1. Cost of a Will
A lot of people worry that preparing a will is expensive and time-consuming. But it doesn’t need to be.
A great deal of an attorney’s time is spent accumulating basic information about the family and its finances. You can avoid most of that wasted legal time by locating and completing a simple will questionnaire in advance of the meeting with the attorney. A standard will questionnaire can be found with any online internet search or even from the attorney’s office. And they can be simple and quick to complete. Most could be filled out in half an hour.
A great deal of an attorney’s time is also often spent on figuring out who in your family should receive which assets and in what form, and what bills are to be paid, and in what order. So think about that in advance as well so that when you go into the meeting you have a general idea of how to answer those questions. The attorney will undoubtedly offer various alternatives, some of which you may find very appealing.
And above all, talk to your spouse as well. Come to an agreement about all of this in advance of the meeting. Many times I have seen spouses get into heated arguments during the meeting, which is unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming. Settle this in advance as best you can.
2. Ancillary Documents.
A will conference need not be solely about the will.
There are a variety of documents that can and should be part of that process. These include powers of attorney for medical decisions and also for financial decisions should you become incapacitated. Also, it is standard practice to prepare directives to physicians should you wish to be removed from any artificial support. These decisions should be made far in advance and included as part of the will process. These can be quickly and easily implemented at that very same meeting.
Folks, the entire will process can be simple, quick and inexpensive if you plan for it in advance. Or the consequences of not planning can be the exact opposite, and tear your family apart, if you don’t.
I know we are all very busy. But the new year is upon us. This is one of those times when we need to set aside our daily routines and responsibilities and put our family first.
David Leeper is a Board Certified federal tax attorney with 40 years of experience. He can be reached at 915-581-8748, by email at email@example.com, or visit leepertaxlaw.com
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Complete a last will without breaking the wallet: David Leeper