According to an article published in 2015, approximately 64% of Americans do not have a Will.
My question to those (nearly) two-thirds of Americans without a Last Will and Testament is this: what are you thinking?
There are apparently lots of folks who (mistakenly) believe:
- Wills are only necessary if you have a multi-million-dollar estate.
- They do not plan on dying.
Here is a story about how JP Morgan was sued in court, accused of mishandling a large estate, committing fraud, breaching its fiduciary duty and breaking a fee agreement, according to court papers. It’s terrible to see these long drawn out estate problems and even longer court cases (in this case, the individual passed away in 2010, seven years ago).
Estate planning does not need to be complicated, but it should be done. The biggest mistake most people make is they (may) understand they might not be subject to estate taxes, but they still need an estate plan.
From the article, most of the early matters in delaying this particular estate process involved valuing 900 bottles of wine and over 6000 golf putters. Things really spun out of control as the estate process lengthened. Sometimes, settling estates involves some unusual items. Baseball cards, anyone?
In this particular case, Max Hopper, who pioneered the SABRE reservation system for American Airlines, died in 2010 with assets of more than $19 million but without a will and testament, according to the statement.
While the details of this case are very eye-opening ($4 billion in punitive damages?), the take-away for most folks should be this: essentially two out of three Americans are walking around without a will.
Why leave a mess behind for your family? Get this (completing a last will and testament) done right away.