Do you want to try to avert your estate falling into chaos?
We all like to believe that after we die, the process of divvying up our property will resemble a calm, polite and orderly board meeting as opposed to looting a liquor store. Total chaos and everyone grabbing whatever they can find in the house is probably quite far from the norm. But this can and does play out, often to a lesser degree. And when there are not instances of bad faith – family members trying to take advantage of the situation – there can still be very awkward situations and conflicts of interest that pop up that can cause strains on family members. Who gets the family silverware? Who gets the antique table? Who gets the wedding ring? A will can minimize these issues.
With a will, you will appoint someone to be the executor of your estate. That means that the person you designate will be empowered by the will and the court to take charge of everything and turn the right property over to the right heirs. Putting someone you trust clearly in charge will go a long way to keeping the process orderly and fair.
Further, in your will you can itemize personal property and direct who will inherit what. You can say that your daughter gets the silverware and your son gets your wedding ring and your niece gets the antique table. Sure, by designating who gets what, there is still the chance at jealousy and disappointment. But, your designation means you gave thought to who should get what, and there should be nothing to fight about. This again helps ensure that there is order and fairness to the process.
Does a will guarantee that no one will fight or steal or cheat or be upset? Of course not. People are people. But by doing a will where you appoint a specific person as executor and you itemize your gifts will go a long way to minimizing conflict. When you minimize conflict, you minimize the chances of relationships being damaged, people being cheated, and legal expenses being incurred.
Coming in to an attorney’s office can also help enormously with getting things prepared for your executor. If you (and, if married, your spouse) died tomorrow, would your next of kin know what bank you use? What insurance you have? When your mortgage payments are due? Whether you have a safety deposit box or not? Someone trying to figure all this out on their own is faced with a monumental and frustrating task. At our office, for example, we give our clients a personal affairs organizer – it is one booklet kept with your will that summarizes all the things your executor would need. They will only need to go to one place to get everything. This might literally save your executor months of work and frustration.
Want to read more of our blogs on this topic? Click here!
* The content of this page is for informational purposes only. It does not serve as legal advice and should not be taken as such. There is nothing published on this website that is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you have a legal issue, you should consult with a licensed attorney directly.