Not having a will can cause your family an incredible amount additional grief from unnecessary complexities and costs in settling your estate, not to mention the possibility of results that are entirely contrary to what you would want.
I just came across an article written by Don McNay that illustrates this point quite well. McNay is a financial advisor. He is a big advocate of having a will to control how your assets are distributed after your death. He advises everyone to get a will.
But, his family didn’t heed his advice. His mother and sister both died without wills. The results for McNay and his family were nothing short than a disaster.
His mother died in April 2006. He and his sister were her sole heirs. At the time of his mother’ s death, his sister was without a job so he paid his mother’s funeral expenses, her mortgage and other outstanding bills. He and his sister agreed that he would be reimbursed from the settlement of their mother’s estate. They did not, however, put their agreement in writing.
His sister then unexpectedly died in October 2006. She had an adult son and a minor daughter. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the sister had an estranged husband.
You guessed it… he showed up after her death.
Right after the funeral he hired a lawyer to file probate proceedings, requesting that he be named administrator of the sister’s estate. Since only six months had passed since his mother died, the mother’s state was still not settled. So, the sister’s husband was also named as a co-administrator of that estate.
Oh, it gets better. Remember, the sister died leaving a minor child. The court appointed an attorney to represent that minor child’s interest and approve any decisions in his mother’s estate.
McNay describes the whole process as “a tedious and expensive mess.”
I’d say that’s probably an understatement.
He also states,
“The person who got the most money from my mother’s estate was my former brother-in-law. My sister’s estate received half of Mom’s money, and he received half of my sister’s estate. My nephew and niece split the other half of her estate.”
He explains that the result is not what his mother or sister would have wanted. Further, it was something that was entirely avoidable. He rightly states that,
“Involving a lawyer would have solved most of the problems. If my sister and, especially, my mother had had simple wills, the process would have been smoother and the money would have gone to the right people.”
McNay concludes the explanation of his ordeal with this statement,
“People may think that wills and attorneys are expensive. In the overall scheme of things, they really aren’t. I gladly would have paid ten times the average cost for my mother and sister to have had wills. And everyone (but my brother-in-law and the attorneys) would have come out way ahead. ”
If you’d like to read his entire story, you’ll find it here: I Learned the Hard Way Why People Need Wills
Don’t let this happen to your family. As Mr. McNay says, this is completely avoidable.
Call me. Let’s talk about your will. Your family will thank you.