“If you don't have a will, the courts will decide who inherits your assets. Compile information now to make a will.”
Women delay making a will more than men, but both sexes put off this important task for a number of reasons. Some think that their estates are too small. Some assume that their spouse will do it. Some are clueless on where to start. Regardless of the excuse, it's important to have a will. Without one, your assets will be distributed based on state laws, rather than your or your family's wishes. Below is Paul the Procrastinator’s Will under Alabama law.
Last Will of Paul Procrastinator as Made by the State of Alabama
First: I direct the Probate Judge to appoint anyone of his choosing to administer all property in my name and distribute it under the terms of this will.
Second: I direct that all my assets be converted to cash, all of my debts paid, including taxes, probate fees, administrative fees, and attorney’s fees.
Third: I direct that the first $50,000 plus one-half of my estate be paid to my spouse if all of my children are also children of my wife. If, however, I have a child by another mother, I direct that only one-half of my estate be paid to my spouse.
Fourth: I direct that the balance of my estate be distributed outright, and in cash, in equal shares to my children. If any child is a minor, I direct that his share be held by a guardian for his benefit. The guardian may be anyone of the court’s choosing.
Fifth: When each of my children attains age 19, I direct that his share be then paid to him outright regardless of his financial or emotional maturity.
Sixth: In the event that my spouse does not survive me, I direct that his/her share be added to the children’s shares under articles Fourth and Fifth.
Seventh: If none of my children survive me but my spouse does, I direct that the remainder under Article Third be distributed outright in the following manner:
- $100,000 plus one-half of my estate to my spouse.
- The balance to my parents, if living, otherwise to my brothers and sisters or their heirs.
Eighth: If I am not survived by a spouse, children, or parents, I direct the Probate Court to seek out my closest blood relatives and fully divide my estate among them in a way which gives an equal share to my closest relatives and their descendants.
Ninth: If no relatives are located, I direct that all of my property go to the State.
goerie.com’s recent post, “5 reasons to have a will,” gives you some ideas to ponder before you talk to an estate planning lawyer.
What’s your net worth? Create an accurate statement of your net worth. List your significant assets, and don’t forget life insurance and retirement benefits. Make sure that you talk with an estate planning attorney to understand what assets pass through the will and which are non-probate assets. You should then consider to whom you’ll leave them, including family members, friends and charities.
What should be done for your care in your final days? Talk about your advanced medical care directive (or “living will”) and powers of attorney. These are important for lifetime planning. An advance medical directive states what actions should be taken for your health, if you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. A power of attorney gives another person the authority to act on your behalf on legal or financial issues.
Who will care for your kids? If you have minor children, think about who should be responsible for their care and upbringing if you pass away. In other words, who’ll be their guardian if both parents die or if one of the parents has been irresponsible and/or unable to care for the children? If you plan ahead, you avoid having a judge making that decision for you.
When should the kids get their inheritance? State laws say that an estate will be distributed to a child at age 19. However, through proper estate planning you can set any age you feel is appropriate and stagger the distributions, if you think your child may not be able to handle the money.
Reference: goerie.com (March 1, 2017) “5 reasons to have a will”