Do you frequently think about having a will prepared? Do you worry every time you travel because you haven’t had your will done? Have circumstances in your life changed since you had a will done, and you haven’t had the will updated to reflect those changes?
Approximately 70 percent of Americans do not have a will. Probably the most common reason given is that many do not believe they have sufficient assets to justify having a will. Unfamiliarity with the process and procrastination also pay a role. Another major reason is the belief that our property will be distributed by law generally in accordance with our wishes.
The Law Office of Carolyn Christoffersen strives to create an affordable estate plan that addresses the wishes and goals of each client. Without a will, individuals are leaving critical issues such as family support, distribution timing, guardianship and estate tax savings to an inflexible system dictated by state statutes. With a careful, well-though-out, well-planned will one can ensure that his or her personal and family objectives are carried out after death, strictly in accordance with his or her wishes and not the impersonal mandate of the state. Beginning with a thorough analysis of your existing income, assets, insurance, needs and goals, Carolyn will tailor your estate plan to protect who and what you value most. In addition, a sound estate plan will include financial and medical powers of attorney that name someone to handle the client’s affairs in the event of incapacity, and a Living Will, which expresses the client’s individual wishes with respect to end of life decisions.
Carolyn understands that estate planning issues can be an overwhelming but important topic, one that many people would rather postpone discussing. The initial steps of the estate planning process are designed to help each client gather information needed to discuss his or her wishes and effectively put together a plan. During each client’s free initial consultation, Carolyn will recommend the best estate planning approach based on the information shared, and quote you a fee for the estate plan proposed.
Some common myths about the need for a will are:
Myth: "Only those who are rich or have a lot of money need a will." --- Truth: Those who are not wealthy are quite often those whose families may be hurt most by failure to have a will. Many people have estates much larger than they realize when they take into account their life insurance, retirement benefits, home, farm or other real estate, savings and securities.
Myth: "Since I don’t have any dependents, I don’t need a will." --- Truth: A person without dependents who does not have a will may find, under state law, his or her property willed to parents and perhaps brothers or sisters in specified, rigid shares. Friends, of course, will be left out, as will any worthy charitable organization the person may have wished to support.
Myth: "I own all of my property jointly with my spouse or another person, so I don’t need a will." --- Truth: It is unlikely that all of your property is held in joint ownership. For example, retirement benefits and employee death benefits are typically not jointly owned. More important, it may be disadvantageous to have all your property in joint ownership.
The Law Office of Carolyn Christoffersen welcomes the opportunity to partner with you to give you peace of mind by addressing your estate planning needs.