“The death of pop star Prince is an extreme example of what can happen when people die without a will. After he died in 2016, long-lost ‘relatives’ came out of the woodwork, claiming to be his wife, child, brother, sister or distant relative.”
Most people aren’t going to have a large number of strangers show up after they die who pretend to be relatives, says the article “Here’s why you don’t want to die without leaving a will” from Arizona Central. However, there are many other reasons to have a will. In Arizona, an estate creditor can step in and become your personal representative after death, if you haven’t designated someone to administer your estate and your family members don’t step up to be involved.
Are you still not convinced? Without a will, you have no say in who inherits your money and possessions, which will be distributed according to the laws of your state.
Here are some tips to help get your estate plan started:
Work with an estate planning attorney. Using an attorney provides accountability, ensures that your wishes are reflected in the estate plan and makes sure that your will is deemed valid by the court. All too often, online documents are found to be deficient, declared invalid and the family is left with the laws of the state.
Name an executor. Your will should include the name of an executor, who will be responsible for handling your financial affairs after you die. She will manage your assets, identify what bills need to be paid, file state and federal tax returns and keep records of anything done on behalf of your estate.
Keep your will in a safe location. Make sure your executor has a copy and knows where it is. Tell your family where it is.
Don’t forget a residuary clause. If you forget to include any assets, a residuary clause will name someone who will receive them.
Don’t forget other important documents. That means a power of attorney and an advance directive. The advance directive spells out what kind of medical treatment you would want, if you are unable to communicate. Power of attorney gives a person you name the authority to act on your behalf.
What if my family fights a lot? Your best bet will be to name a private fiduciary to act as your personal representative. That way, no one can be accused of playing favorites, and a family history of sibling rivalry won’t undermine your wishes.
Make an appointment with a local estate planning attorney, who knows the laws of your state and can work with you to create an estate plan designed for your specific family situation. Both you and your family will enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that you are prepared for the future.
Reference: Arizona Central (June 21, 2019) “Here’s why you don’t want to die without leaving a will”