I’ve been married for 13 years. Practiced law for over a decade. My wife still find talking about this topic tough. It’s not easy. Most people I speak to at presentations or in person say the same things. “I’m not old enough to need a will.” “I don’t have enough property for it to be worthwhile.” “My wife (or husband) will simply take care of the kids.” “I think the court can figure it out. I don’t have much.” “I’m not going anywhere.”
It’s true. You, me and everyone else avoid talking about death. Benjamin Franklin said, “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Jobs, homes, marriages (unfortunately), the way your child grows up and life in general carry no guarantees. Things rarely go as expected. However, unless you live like Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation, death is inevitable. Look at the problems which arose with Prince’s estate and Aretha Franklin’s estate to see all the problems avoiding estate planning and a will cause. Seriously, Google it.
So, in light of this, what should you do? Plan for the inevitable. Map it out for your family and those you love. Arrange things so those who grieve your loss avoid the “what did she want?” issue. You hear stories of funeral homes taking advantage of a grieving family or a hospital making decisions that someone never wanted done to preserve their life. A will helps dodge some of these issues. You make a document that not only states how to divide up property, care for pets left behind, children left behind and your body, how to handle your business, but it helps ease the transition. Your family and friends know what you want. You’ll discuss this with them. It also forces you to think about what you want to do or have done when you die. A good attorney will guide you through this process. They’ll also help you get the information and answers you need. Plus, they’ll make it efficient and less complicated.
Besides the information and guidance you provide your family and friends, is it really expensive? In Texas, I’ve seen people spend over $5,000.00 to handle dividing up property when no will exists. You pay for an attorney to represent the person wanting to be appointed as administrator. You also pay for another attorney to represent everyone else, called an Ad Litem Attorney. Guess who pays for both attorneys? Your family or the administrator. How can they get compensated for these costs? Your estate or property you’ve left behind.
So, getting a will done, which can cost anywhere from $400.00 or more depending on what you ask for in the will still shouldn’t cost more than $900.00 for a person, unless you’ve got some really extenuating circumstances. (These numbers are based on average costs done via an internet search.) Probating the will, which is a process by which the Executor of the will (person who handles your wishes) gets the power to do so, becomes greatly simplified.
Therefore, No longer do you need an Ad Litem Attorney. No longer will you need multiple hearings. Typically, you spend about $2,500.00 on probating a will, based on average prices found via the internet. Every attorney is different but even going to what some would consider an expensive attorney saves you money. It should save your estate at least $1,500.00 in costs, allow your family to know your wishes and give the family time to grieve more peacefully.
Consequently, you get an opportunity to figure out what you need to get done, save your estate and those you love money, and make for an easier transition in life. As death can be an unexpected transition, this ends up helping everyone involved. Texas tries to make the process for those who made a will easier than most states. Texas wants to make it easy and does so most of the time. So, take the time. Going to see an attorney won’t take as long as an oil change at Kwik Lube or waiting to be seated at Texas Roadhouse on a Friday night. It’ll put your mind at ease. It makes sense. Then you’ll have more time to deal with that nasty tax issue Benjamin Franklin mentioned.
If you find yourself in a difficult situation and need to discuss your situation with someone, you can always reach out to an attorney to give you some advice and direction. Please feel free to give Rasley Law Group a call at 972-584-7626 or visit our website at www.rasleylaw.com.