The Problem with Wills

Posted by Harvey L. CoxJun 08, 20210 Comments

You probably have the same primary concerns I commonly hear expressed by those thinking about their estate plans.

1. Financial Burdens – you want to make sure your assets transfer to your family without unnecessary expense

2. Privacy – You want to make sure your assets transfer to your family without the entire process being made public

3. No Delay – You want to make sure there is no delay in transferring your assets to your family

4. Minors – You want to make sure minor children are cared for by someone you choose, and that large sums of money are not handed to minor children or grandchildren when they reach 18 years of age.

While a Will is the most common tool used in estate planning, it is not the best tool to address these four concerns.  Why not?  Let me explain.

1.  A Will doesn't provide for you.

A Will does nothing for you while you're alive.  It is a death document that only goes into effect when you die.  If you become disabled because of an accident, illness, or old age, a Will does nothing for you.

2.  A Will doesn't always provide for your loved ones.

A Will is supposed to allow you to leave your property efficiently to your loved ones, but it rarely does that.  Leaving property through a Will is like pouring a pitcher of water into cupped hands to take a drink.  Most of the water spills onto the floor and disappears before you can use it properly.

3. A Will takes your family public.

Wills guarantee that your family will be in probate court.  Probate is a public process where anyone and everyone can see what property you own, the debts you owe, who is receiving your property, and in what amounts. Probate is also a time-consuming process, making it expensive because there are court costs, attorney's fees, appraiser's fees, etc.  You are not adequately providing for your loved ones if you expose them to the probate process.

4. A Will may not work.

The term "Simple Will" is a misnomer.  There is no such thing.  Any Will is fraught with complex legal rules, making it easy for disgruntled beneficiaries to file a Will contest, and the probate court is the perfect place for such Will contests.

5. A Will is easily changed.

The ease with which one can change a Will is particularly problematic in second marriages with children from previous marriages.

Example:  John and Diane have been married for over 30 years.  They have no children together, but each of them has two children from prior marriages.  In their Wills, they provide for each other first and then leave the assets equally to all four children.  What they don't consider when drafting their Wills is that the survivor of the two of them can always change the Will to leave everything to only that survivor's children. 

There are alternatives to Will that you should carefully consider.  To help you understand the various things you should consider in preparing your Estate Plan, I have written two books that you can download at no cost. 

I also offer an estate planning webinar which you can register and attend using this link: Register for Webinar