A recent story in the New York Times brings up a morbid, but important subject: What happens when you or your spouse dies unexpectedly? While it’s not a fun topic to discuss, estate planning is something everyone needs to give some time and thought to–before finding themselves stuck in the middle of a tragedy.
When Chanel Reynolds’s husband was hit while riding a bicycle she could barely be present in the hospital room as doctors described his serious injuries. Rather her thoughts wandered to the list of financial tasks that adults should have completed by the time they neared middle age. Reynolds worried about their wills that had been drafted but not signed, the fact that she had no idea what their finances looked like and the reality that she didn’t know how she would be able to afford to run her family by herself.
After Reynolds’ husband died in July 2009 she decided to turn her anguish and guilt into a website designed to help adults get their finances and estate planning in order: http://getyourstufftogether.org.
Reynolds’ goal with her new website was to simplify the checklist of what needs to be taken care of before you find yourself in such a situation as she did years ago. She wanted to keep the personality along with with the finance, and she wanted to be sure to offer a central place for all forms so that fewer people found themselves in the situation she did years ago.
According to a study by Rocket Lawyer in 2011, 57 percent of adults in the U.S. don’t have a will, and of those aged 45 to 64, 44 percent haven’t finalized a will.
The fact that their wills were unsigned ended up costing Reynolds thousands of dollars in unnecessary fees. She also needed to wait a period of time before any of her husband’s money was available to her and her family to use to feed them and pay their mortgage.
In the state of Texas if you die without a will, the state will write one for you at the time of your death. This is referred to as dying intestate. The state writes the will with your best interest in mind, but that doesn’t always mean it will end up being in the best interest of those whom you love.
We urge all adults to have a will drafted and updated regularly as well as a living trust in place. Be sure that you’ve chosen a probate attorney whom you trust. Find an estate executor who you think will put your and your family’s best interest in mind. We’d be happy to offer a complimentary consultation to discuss Texas estate planning and probate questions. Please feel free to reach out to the Pellerin Law Firm anytime. In the unfortunate event of an unexpected death, we want to help you avoid Chanel Reynolds’ heartbreaking situation.
Source: The New York Times, “A Shocking Death, a Financial Lesson and Help for Others,” Rob Lieber, January 11, 2013