If you haven’t made a last will and testament, then you are not alone. Whilst we all know that eventually, one day, we are going to die, it seems that very few of us are preparing for it. Now, of course, nobody is ever perhaps really truly ‘ready” to die but there are certain steps we can take in preparation for that fateful day such as obtaining life insurance and making a will.
And yet, according to a 2017 survey of more than 1003 adults, only 42% of the respondents had taken any action to document their final wishes in a will. Broken down demographically, perhaps unsurprisingly it is the younger amongst us who are particularly unlikely to have made a will. Whilst 81% of the over 72’s have made a will, that percentage figure gradually declines and millennials (18 – 36) the figure drops to 22%.
Likeliness To Have Made a Will Broken Down by Age Group
Over 72 – 81%
53 – 71 – 60%
37 – 52 – 34%
18 – 36 – 22%
A lot of Americans clearly feel that making a last will and testament is something to put off until later in life. We get it. Just as you don’t think about winter at the height of summer, thinking about death is simply not something we want to do when you are youthful and healthy. But yet the tragic reality is that some people die young and often leave families behind them. Therefore, you are never too young to make a will.
Dying Without a Will
So what happens if somebody dies without a will? Dying “intestate” (ie, without leaving a will) means that your estate is dealt with according to your home state’s intestacy laws. Obviously, intestacy laws vary between states but typically it will mean that either the state itself, or your immediate next of kin, will be held responsible for dealing with any assets and you will lose all control over how your estate is handled.
Dying intestate can cause a lot of problems for your loved ones. It can lead to messy, expensive and ruinous legal disputes between family members as well as technical and procedural difficulties in dealing with your bank, insurer or creditors. Not only can this lead to family break ups and stress, it can also severely hinder the grieving process as loved ones are quite literally not able to move on.
Do You Need a Will?
I know that’s quite a heavy load to drop on you but this really can be a grave matter. A common reason people don’t make wills is simply that they don’t consider themselves to have enough assets or worldly goods to justify making one. However, in reality most of us have at least a few thousand bucks in the bank, some form of pension and more worldly goods than we realise. Therefore a Will can be as simple as saying who gets the cash in your bank account and who gets that antique lamp your friends admire every time they come and visit.
There are other little details you can include in a Will if you so wish. For example, you can write “last letters” to family, friends (or even enemies!) and a Will will tell your appointed trustee where to find them and who to send them to. A Will can also include details of any last rites such as funeral and burial arrangements.
Making A Will
Traditionally, Will making has been handled by lawyers whether they are specialised estate planners, or simply the local attorney. However, the reality is that a lot of what an estate planning lawyer does is relatively straightforward – they follow a tried and tested formula, fill out some standard documents and are not forced to hit the legal books or do any research. In fact, many lawyers love being asked to do last will and testaments as (along with affidavits) they are seen as easy money.
These days however, the internet is fast eating into their patch and online will become increasingly popular. An online will is exactly the same as a will written in a lawyers office and is equally legally binding. Not only is using an online will maker fast and accessible, but it is a lot cheaper than paying an attorney or estate planner.
It seems that Online Will Makers are set to change the way Americans view estate planning forever. The ease of access and reasonable fees seem to be tempting more Americans than ever. Will making was on the rise across the nation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and a larger market share than ever before went to the online will making sector.
Interestingly, even younger Americans now seem to be taking estate planning that bit more seriously.
There are a lot of online will makers out there. Whilst they all broadly offer the same services, there are some differences in the range of services they offer, the intricacies of their operation and of course the price.
Of course, Estate Planning laws do differ between states but typically cover all of the US states and even some overseas territories. In particular, according to OnilneWillMakers.com, the sunshine state of Florida seems to be seeing a lot of take up in Online Will applications, possibly on account of its popularity as a retirement destination.