What Will Happen When You Die?

That’s not a metaphysical or spiritual question. It’s a question about what will happen to your earthly goods when you are gone, or when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

I’ve never been a Prince fan, but his death has a lesson to teach us. If you are over 18, you need to have a will. You need to have all your paperwork of life and death in order. Now his relatives are left in the lurch, not knowing his wishes, and will be possibly fighting over the spoils for years to come. Lawyers and government entities will reap the benefits of the efforts of Prince’s hard work. I SUSPECT he wouldn’t have wanted that.

I’ve probably heard all of the excuses about why people haven’t take care of these plans. Let’s look at a few of them.

I don’t have very much things to leave people. 

Perhaps that’s true, but I suspect you have more than you think. Property, bank accounts, furniture, jewelry, etc. are part of your estate. In the US, each state has “rules” for how this stuff will be distributed if you die without a will. Do you know what those rules are? Do you agree with them? A simple will will make sure that your wishes are honored. Also, if you don’t have the proper documents in place, your heirs will have to navigate the probate system to receive your earthly goods. That can be time consuming and expensive.

It costs a lot to make a will. 

It may cost a lot if you have a complicated estate and estate plan, but it can also be virtually free. There are websites (e.g. legalzoom.com) that allow you to make a will and create other important documents very inexpensively. You local library probably has books that tell you how to do it yourself. Yes, I think everybody should budget to see a lawyer about their estate plans, but you don’t have to. If you don’t spend the time and money NOW to get this done, your heirs will be spending a lot more time and a lot more money later.

I don’t want to think about these things.

Guess what. Nobody does. However, planning for our demise is what grownups do. It is a real kindness to our spouse, children, grandchildren and heirs to have the proper documents in place. You don’t want them to have to guess what you wanted. You don’t want them to fight over your possessions after you are gone.

And, you need more than a will. 

You also need documents to allow another person to manage your financial affairs and make medical decisions on your behalf if you can’t. 

In the US, these documents vary by state, so I can’t tell you EXACTLY what you need, but that information is very easy to find. A lot of it is online, and many lawyers have “package deals” for these documents.

Do yourself, your family, and your heirs a favor and get this stuff done. Less than 50% of adults in the US have the proper documents. Don’t be one of them.


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