I read about a man who died unexpectedly and left behind a financial mess that derailed his loved ones. With two children from a previous relationship, a new partner, and a small amount of cash in the bank, the man had figured he was too young and too poor to make a will. And so, not only did his people have to deal with their grief, they found themselves having to set it aside to untangle the chaos he left behind. These tragic tales happen every day and it is usually because of the myths surrounding Wills and estate planning.
Being too young is just one of the myths that people believe when it comes to creating a will. In this article, we’ll bust some myths about wills and hopefully encourage you to think carefully about your estate.
Myth 1: “Talking about wills and estates is morbid, I don’t need to think about it yet.”
Not planning for future events is like clapping your hands over your eyes during a nuclear attack and hoping it’ll all be fine. None of us lives forever. There’s a Latin term – Memento mori – which means “remember you must die”. Rather than terrify us, this term is intended to remind us of the inevitable – philosophers across the ages, Socrates, the Stoics, and even in Buddhism have various iterations of this concept.
Basically it means: live each day to the fullest, while planning for the inevitable.
And this is why making a will is so critical. It’s not that expecting you’ll die tomorrow or next week, no one really expects that. But – you might. Making a will simply allows you to make sure your loved ones are left cared for and supported during the most challenging time of their lives.
[Name] says “Talking about our lives and our wishes isn’t morbid, it’s smart. There are so many things we can’t control – but creating a will isn’t one of them. ”
Lesson: Don’t tempt fate.
Myth 2: “I’m too young to have a will.”
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” is a quote that’s incorrectly attributed to Beatles musician John Lennon, who died at the age of 40 – and what an excellent example of why it’s important to tidy up your affairs! Naturally he didn’t expect to be shot dead outside his New York home at such a young age, and the battle for his estate pitched his wife against his first son and dragged on for years, causing untold damage in the process.
Lesson: Don’t be John Lennon.
Myth 3: “I’m too poor to have a will.”
So you’re not John Lennon with a huge estate – but that doesn’t mean you should forgo making a will. Size isn’t everything, after all! Making a will means you can allocate whatever you do have to whomever you choose. Things like cash, car, furniture, clothes, jewellery, shares – these are all considered assets and may well have sentimental value for someone in your life. The alternative is they’re scattered to the wind after you go…or to the wrong person, like an ex.
Lesson: There’s value in more than just $.
Myth 4: “I made a will ages ago – it’s good for life.”
Here are things that weren’t commonplace 10 years ago – Siri, Apple Watch, Alexa, Snapchat, streaming tv, Uber Eats, 4G, 5G, even Tinder.
Most of us couldn’t have even imagined these services except in science fiction, yet today they are essential parts of everyday life.
And who could have imagined that in one year we would see the world turned on its head …. and by a mystery virus, no less. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen, and often does.
So keeping your will up to date is critical. One of my friends has locked in a routine for every New Years Day afternoon as she’s recovering from NYE – she makes sure her will, super beneficiaries, and powers of attorney are all current.
Lesson: 2020. Keep your will up to date.
Myth 5: “My DIY will is good enough.”
There’s a reason lawyers pay a lot of money for their education – they have to work hard to understand the complexities of the legal system, so they can navigate their way around it. Unless you’re a lawyer, chances are very high that there’ll be an error and it can be overturned. Watching Law & Order on repeat does not make you a legal expert.
Lesson: Hire someone who studied law at uni.
Myth 6: “But I can’t afford to hire a lawyer.”
The cost of a will varies depending on the law firm and the complexity of your affairs. Hiring a lawyer to prepare a simple straightforward will should cost a couple of hundred dollars. Over the course of a year, that’s equivalent to one average-sized takeaway coffee, per week. Or a few meals from the local takeaway. Or a beer once a week at the pub.
[name] says: “There’s a view that lawyers are expensive. They can be, sure, where the situation is complex, but when it comes to wills, if prepared correctly, they are a cost-effective way to have a little control over the future.
“A legal battle over your estate is likely to cost more, and you have to think about whether that’s what you want for the people you love when you pass away. And those legal battles can happen even over the smallest of assets, and there’s the risk that the inheritance will get chiselled away.”
Lesson: An excellent law firm with your interests at heart is a worthwhile exercise when it comes to making an iron-clad will.
Myth 7: “My partner will get everything anyway.”
Maybe so – but what if you’ve broken up? Maybe that’s not who you want in your will. Do you have children from a previous relationship? Nieces or nephews you’d like leave something to? A charity like an animal shelter, or a non-profit organisation that tackles a cause that’s close to your heart?
A will covers more than just the dollars, it’s the distribution of all your assets (except your super – that’s handled differently). At the same time, think about nominating a power of attorney – someone you trust or your lawyer who can step in for you and make decisions if you’re unable to.
Think about it like this: A will is the love letter you leave behind for the people you love, and the causes that are important to you. Also, you can flip the bird to those you secretly disliked (looking at you, Yoko).
Lesson: Make your wishes known.
Don’t leave your assets to fate. Call CM Lawyers and arrange for an appointment to draw up your will. They’re professionals and they’ll always keep your best interests top of mind.
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