The Importance of Having a Will

Musical icon Prince, who died on April 21, did not have a will. Do you have a will? If you don’t, what’s holding you back?

Prince was considered an exceptional businessman. He often did his own negotiations with record labels and copyright houses. Yet amazingly, he did not have a will.

It’s not unusual for the rich and famous to die without a will. Consider Jimmy Hendrix, Pablo Picasso, Bob Marley, Howard Hughes, Sonny Bono and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the first president to die without a will even though he was an attorney. Some sources estimate that more than 55 percent of adult Americans do not have a will or an estate plan, and only 41 percent of Baby Boomers have a will. Only 32 percent of African Americans have a will and only 26 percent of Latinos have a will.

Do you have a will? You might say, ‘I don’t own much.’ If you own anything at all and you love somebody, you need an estate plan. Procrastination goes a long way towards explaining why so many people do not invest the time to create an estate plan. Tomorrow is always a better day to confront our own mortality. Sometimes you just get stuck thinking about all the details, and you don’t know how to handle it.

Here are a few things to consider:

It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on attorney fees. There are some tremendous resources online to help with a will. I do think it’s best to use an attorney. You can get a typical ‘I love You’ estate plan for less than $1,000, but there are other options online that don’t cost much money.

You might be having a hard time figuring out how to handle things. Who will handle my estate? Do I leave things equally? I do believe we love our kids equally but uniquely. It doesn’t mean we take everything and divide it in thirds if you have three kids. You have to talk through that, and those are hard conversations.

And you should execute your will as if you were going to pass away within the next 90 days. You can change your will at any time. So if in five years things have changed, you can redo the will. Sometimes we have a hard time making decisions because we feel like things are concrete and we can never change it. It’s like we’re making a permanent decision. The reality is you can change your will even if you’ve used an attorney.

Don’t procrastinate. Create an estate plan before it’s too late.