Jimi Hendrix would have never imagined on September 17, 1970 (the day before his death), that he’d be leaving behind a messy, drawn-out courtroom ordeal because he lacked a proper last will and testament. How can you avoid passing down a headache to the heirs you leave behind after your death?
In today’s episode of Your Money Minute with Tracy Stewart, CPA, I want to talk about proper estate planning with a last will and testament. Let’s face it: No one wants to talk about their death and what will transpire afterward. But just like Jimi, if you skip this step — you’re potentially leaving months (and possibly even years) of grief sorting through what could and should happen with your estate. Don’t put your loved ones through this!
The key to a last will and testament for estate planning is to be clear and complete. If you are ambiguous with your plans and desires, it’s almost worse than not having a plan at all. Working with an attorney who specializes in estate planning can be very helpful here, as they can help you articulate the specifics in how you want things distributed, who will manage your estate and who your beneficiaries will be. Many people try to get by with a handwritten will and testament — or even more common these days, using an online form. But sadly, most don’t follow the directions for these forms or they don’t complete the document entirely. Again, having an ambiguous or poorly planned last will and testament is as bad (if not worse) than not having one at all…
If you surveyed 100 people, all would tell you they need to either draft or revise their last will and testament. When was the last time you updated yours? Do you even have one at all? My challenge to you is to begin or update your last will and testament. If you need a referral for an estate planning attorney, I can share recommendations in the central Texas area. Doing this will give you peace of mind that your affairs are handled long after you’ve passed away — and will spare your family and loved ones the drama and disputes that accompany a poorly managed estate.
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