Some of the reasons people use for not having a will include:
- "I don't have much property."
Each of us has property worthy of distribution to someone-an automobile,
bank account, stereo, home computer, furniture, jewelry, paintings,
china, etc. Even if everything were sold at an estate auction, it would
probably yield several thousand dollars which could be useful to your
- "My property is in joint names.
This is a trap into which many people fall. Having property in joint
name is no excuse for not having a will. In the event of a common disaster,
you will have no distribution plan. Or, the other joint tenant could
predecease you. Having everything in joint name is also a bad estate
plan because the first spouse to die loses the benefit of his or her
lifetime estate tax exemption.
- "My spouse will get everything anyway."
This is an invalid premise. If you die without a will, your children
may share in a major part of the estate. Your spouse may predecease
you, or you may get a divorce. Both of you may die in a common disaster
with the result that everything will be left up to chance. (For example)
Did you know that if you die without a will in Massachusetts, your children
share in the estate? Do you want your 21 year old college student to
receive a percentage of your estate rather than having it all go to
- "I'm young. I have plenty of time."
A review of the obituaries will show that death is not a state reserved
only for the elderly. Many people in their forties and fifties and younger
die from all kinds of unexpected accidents and diseases. (The number
of court appointed guardians after 9/11/01 should be a reminder that
we're surrounded by uncertainty.)
- "I'm not married so I don't need a will."
This is all the more reason why you need one. Who knows what haphazard
distribution will result from a distribution under state laws in your
- "My wife and I already split out estates into two revocable trusts.
Everything worthwhile is in the name of either my trust or my wife's
trust and will be distributed according to the terms we have outlined."
Each of you still needs a pour-over will that simply provides for anything
standing in your name alone upon your death to be distributed to your
trust. Then, the trust takes over the distribution plan. It is very
unlikely not to own something outside the revocable trust at death.
Moreover, some people set up living trusts but neglect to fund them.
Please note, individual financial circumstances
will vary. The information on this site does not constitute legal or tax
advice. As with all tax and estate planning, please consult your attorney
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