So, You Don’t Think You Need A Last Will And Testament?

You are married and you own everything jointly with your spouse.

You don’t have much in the way of assets.

All of your assets are beneficiary designated – retirement accounts, life insurance policies.

All of your assets are jointly owned.

All of your assets are in a trust.

The above scenarios may lead you to think that you don’t need to have a Last Will and Testament.  But, consider these scenarios –

You and your spouse are killed in a tragic accident while together.

You, as a married individual, are traveling alone and are killed in a tragic accident.

You, as a single person, are killed in a tragic accident.

Who will be the beneficiary of the proceeds of a possible lawsuit settlement resulting in your death?  Without a Last Will and Testament, your state of residency will determine who will receive the settlement.  It may not always be your spouse if you are married.  Would you be comfortable with this?  Also, who would take care of administering your estate?  Here again, your state of residence will decide who has priority to handle your estate. 

You may think that you don’t need to spend money to have your estate planning completed by an attorney but it may be one of the best investments you make.  Laws change, situations change – divorces, second marriages, new children become part of your family, you become disabled, one of your beneficiaries has special needs, and the list goes on.  Inadequate estate planning could result in paying taxes that could otherwise have been avoided.  Inadequate estate planning could result in a disabled beneficiary losing benefits.  If you are in a second marriage, assets could be distributed to children as well as stepchildren. 

Don’t leave your estate to chance.  Be proactive.  Even planning your funeral could be impacted without proper planning.  Is this what you would want?

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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