This year has been tumultuous to say the least. It has brought the COVID-19 virus, job loss, and overall economic downturn. Under such circumstances, one would imagine that people would be prioritizing their finances and estate planning. The evidence, however, suggests the opposite. A recent poll conducted by Caring.com and YouGov shows that the number of people who have a will has decreased by 25% since 2017. When respondents were asked why they did not have a will, the most common responses related to “cost” and “lack of knowledge.” Despite the decline of people who have wills, most of the respondents in the poll stated that they believe wills are important. They’re right!
Few people would likely describe a lawyer’s services as cheap. Someone who is experiencing financial difficulties during this time is unlikely to shop around for a lawyer unless it was absolutely necessary. Perhaps a person feels they don’t have enough assets, or they just simply don’t get around to doing it. However, if you have a family, a home, and a savings account, you have enough reason to make a will. After counting up one’s assets, they’d likely be surprised how much their net worth actually is. For this reason, a will serves as a minor investment to help protect the assets they’ve accumulated over their life. It’s a small price to pay in regard to protecting the larger pool of wealth that you’ve accumulated and making sure it’s distributed according to your wishes.
There’s a phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” If people knew how beneficial a will is, they’d likely see the investment in one as more important. Contrary to the common perception of wills, they do more than just distribute your assets. Some lesser known benefits include:
A will provides you with the ability to lay out exactly how you want your estate to be distributed and specify to whom it is to be distributed to. Passing without a will leaves many of these vital decisions in the hands of the probate court. This can lead to countless unintended consequences. For example, a person you had no intention of providing for could take a significant portion of the assets. Furthermore, by allowing your estate to pass through the intestacy process, your family may have to wait months, sometimes years (in the case of a contest), to receive distributions.
Cost and the lack of knowledge have proven to be barriers in acquiring wills. The average person often doesn’t know what a typical will entails. Therefore, the prospect of paying a lawyer to help them figure it out can be daunting. While this is understandable, it must be noted that the formalities required for wills in Florida are strict. A failure to comply with the required formalities will result in denial of the will and initiation of intestate procedures. For this reason, investing in legal expertise now can help you to save in the long run and can ensure that your wishes will be carried out according to your specifications.