Do I Need A Last Will And Testament

By | March 24, 2019

The truth is that everyone of legal age needs a Last Will And Testament. Some form of legal document expressing their wishes of what will be done with their possessions. A will is not going to affect the deceased, obviously, but will affect the ones the deceased leaves behind. Those that die without a will can leave an awful mess for their survivors.

What Can Happen

Let me tell you a true story of an acquaintance of mine that died without having a will. This person was in her late fifties with several medical problems. Upon her death she left two grown sons and a husband of seven years. She had a house in need of repair and approximately three acres of land.

She previously had inquired of me several times about what was needed to make a will. I had directed her to a well-known online company that I had used for my mother’s will. She apparently did not take my advice and died without having a will.

I am not sure of all the legalities that went on with her sons lawyers, and her husband but, the house went to her two sons, and the husband was granted a life estate with stipulations. The husband was not able to meet the stipulations and was paid a meager sum to vacate the premises. To my knowledge, as of this writing, the surviving husband is still homeless, for lack of a better term. I’m sure the deceased is turning over in her grave.

This is just one example of many. Whether you are eighteen or eighty you need to have a will of some sort, “last will and testament” or “living trust”. It doesn’t matter if you have assets worth Ten thousand, or ten million dollars. You are protecting those you love from such calamities as the example above. I knew the relationship of the couple in the example, she would have left everything to her husband. Instead, he suffers from the grief of her death and the loss of a home.

Different States Different Laws

Each state has its own laws regarding wills, probate, etc. Check the laws for your state. I reside in Texas and have been the “Executor of the Estate” on two different occasions. Once for my grandmothers’ estate, and again for my mothers’ estate. Both went through probate, a relatively painless process because we had prepared for it. Probate can be a long, costly, and confusing process but, there are ways to avoid probate.

In Texas there is a “Living Trust” you can create to avoid probate for any asset you possess such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, etc.
There are other things that need to be considered as well such as joint ownership of property, which should include “right of survivorship”, which also avoids probate. PoD or “payable on death” for bank accounts and certificate of deposit (cd’s) also avoid probate.There is also a “Texas Lady Bird Deed” which will transfer ownership of property upon death without going through the process of probate. Another is a “Transfer on Death Deed”.

Not Legal Advice

I am in no way trying to give you legal advice. I am stressing the importance of
having your affairs in order no matter what your age. It is just the responsible thing to do for the ones you love most, your family that survives you in case of your death. Don’t think that you are invincible because you are young. I’ve read about several young people dying of heart attacks recently. One girl was only 17, another 25.

Seek the advice of a lawyer, whether online or off. Remember, “Google” is your friend (lol). Search for your States’ laws. Try to have some understanding so you can ask a lawyer the appropriate questions.

In Conclusion

It can seem morbid. Our demise is something we would rather not think about but it is a reality. Don’t put it off. Don’t be like the example above. Keep in mind that it is not for you, it is for those you leave behind.

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