The Best Gift Ever – Making a Will
Losing Herman was one of the hardest things that had ever happened. It was so sudden, but what was even more unexpected was when Mary found out that the home she and Herman had enjoyed for their 12 years of marriage was now owned by his ex-wife. She was truly devastated. Why had they not updated their wills? Now everything, including the house, was now the property of his ex-wife.
When Beverly found out that her daughter and husband had been killed in a car accident it seemed like nothing could get any worse. But just as shocking was finding out that she had to prove that her health was satisfactory before she could gain custody of her grandchildren. After six months spent proving her health status, her grandchildren were released from Foster Care into her arms.
Nobody likes to think about dying – especially when thinking about themselves. But wills are not about you, they are for the people you leave behind. And for them, it is the best gift ever!
One should be very clear regarding any terms of the will. I know siblings who did not speak to each other for decades due to promises of items that were not specified in the will. In fact, it all started over a dining room table. This situation literally led to lawsuits and split the family.
So, what happens to your “Stuff” if you die without a will? In short, your estate becomes Intestate. Since each state has its own process for Intestacy, this makes it even more important to make sure that you have a will in place.
Succession laws of each state can vary, but in most cases a surviving spouse is appointed to serve as the administrator of the estate, then children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings. This administrator, also known as the personal representative, oversees paying off any debts and allocating remaining assets.
“Stuff” is one thing, but what about your child(ren). If parents pass without a will, it is up to the court to decide who will have guardianship of the child(ren). Though judges do their best to act in the best interest of the child(ren), they do not know family dynamics and other factors that may be important. Knowing that your children may be placed in a home or situation that is not of your choosing should be enough to make any parent get their will done.
There is so much more that can be written; there are so many issues involved with a loved one’s estate. Having managed estates with and without a will, I can honestly say that having a will is the way. In today’s complex society of relationships and partnerships, the best gift you can leave to your family is your words of wisdom and direction – your will. The pain your loved ones feel after your passing is hard enough.
What’s the worst experience you’ve heard of happening when someone passed away without a will?
By Joni Grounds, CEO Benefits4Success
Find out more about Benefits4Success HERE
My Mother, upon the death of her Mother, was raised by a wealthy Aunt. When this Aunt died, many members of the family descended upon the Aunt’s home and just started “taking stuff”. Since my Mother grew-up in that home — and had some attachment to specific items — my Mother was very disappointed that she could not receive those items that had been verbally promised to her. This “awkward situation” with other family members created strained relationships. Make a Will and legally state in writing all the details of your bequests.
My uncle refused to get a will.
Even in his 80s he wanted no part of it.
When he passed there was a lot of problems and hard feelings.
A friend from Michigan had a single brother who lived, and died, here in Alabama. He had no will, and she spent a good deal of time to take care of everything. Then his “son “ spoke up and claimed everything. She was not even even allowed in the house anymore.
In settlement offices we deal with a lot of situations of property being sold. In some of these situations there may be a deceased spouse. If the deed was not a survivorship deed and all interest being left to the surviving spouse, then all the heirs of that deceased person must be tracked down and they must also sign the deed in the sale. If a Will had been done this would have been a much simpler and easy transaction to close.
We have a situation now with my sister and I. Our mother just had a brain hemorrhage at 88 years old and was in ICU. They did not think she would survive. My father passed away 18 months ago. My sister went to the house to find paperwork as putting her as guardian over her, POA over her finances which my parents put together 5 years ago. Thank goodness.
The lesson we have learned
Be sure you have Power of Attorney over their finances, property, and most important, if one of your parents or both are still living & if they have accident or get sick, can’t take care of themselves & can’t be by themselves (need assistance), have a power of attorney making medical decisions for them. Those documents are so important to have in place if anything happens. We are going thru that now.
My friend has a special needs grown daughter. Since my friend doesn’t have a will, her daughter will become a ward of the state! We’ve been trying to help my friend get it in place for over a year now but it isn’t happening; so scary & sad. Another friend had a ministry to the special needs community. She said this situation I named is way too common in the special needs community.