The bottom line is: If you love and cherish your family, you MUST take the time to at very least write your will. Writing your Last Will is the most basic act of estate planning.
A will ensures your assets go to the people you want to receive them when you die. Pretty basic, huh? But some 70 percent of Americans have no Last Will! Without a will, the state decides who receives your estate. You may not agree with the state's decision, but it will be a little too late for you to do anything about it!
Many people who have a will believe that their estate won't have to go through probate. That is incorrect. If you live in California, your will can avoid probate only if your estate is valued at less than $150,000. Otherwise your will has to go through probate; but at least your estate goes to the people you want to receive it. As mentioned above, if you have no will, the State has an estate plan for you. Probate can be avoided by setting up a revocable ("living") trust.
But first of all, you must stop procrastinating. Everyone has excuses for not having a Will, especially if you are young; after all you are immortal. But if you have a family and no will, you are condemming them to dealing with your probate, and they will not thank you for it. The most loving action you can take is at least preparing a will.
As reported in a recent article in Forbes, Tell Your Family You Love Them -- Write Your Will, there are certain fundamentals only you can control when it comes to your estate.
In reality, there isn’t a single moment in your life when you’re ready to plan your estate. You don’t just reach some magical “pause button” where everything stops and there’s nothing new happening in your life, your business, your investments, or with your loved ones. Likewise, there is no time to stop planning, and for the same reasons.
Estate planning is not an event, but rather a lifetime process. Beginning today, you can put a plan in place with enough flexibility to cover many of life’s twists and turns. And, of course, you should always update your plan to reflect major changes – whether in the law, your life, your assets or the lives of your loved ones.
Reference: Forbes (March 30, 2011) “Tell Your Family You Love Them -- Write Your Will”