Find a Doctor Employees Newsroom Upcoming Events

100% of Americans Have a Will

Cayce Powell, JD

Did you know that everybody has a Will? That's right. According to a recent
survey, 100% of Americans have a Will. Sure, only 30% of Americans have drafted a
Last Will and Testament, but the other 70% also have a Will. A Will simply directs who
gets what and when. So whether you have drafted your own Will or are relying on the
State to direct who gets what, you have a Will.


It is obvious that the 70% should draft a Will to direct the disposition of their
assets. What is less obvious is the need for the majority of the 30% to re-examine their
Will. We plan hundreds of estates every year and review even more. Here are some
common "holes" (also known as mistakes) we have found lately in current estate plans:


· Asset titling does not correspond to plan (for example, retirement accounts and life
insurance are paid directly to individuals, so the beneficiaries in the Will are
disregarded)


· Documents are not updated to reflect changes in family (a deceased individual is
still listed as beneficiary, trustee, or executor; or a new family member is omitted)


· Documents are not updated to reflect changes in asset value (there has been a
significant change in the value of the estate)


· Recent Tax Law changes simply cause unexpected and unwanted results (a Will
drafted correctly to take advantage of the “Unified Exemption” a few years ago may
limit the surviving spouse's ability to access assets; or a trust set up for tax reasons
may no longer be needed)


It would be difficult to list all of the holes we have found in estate plans over the last
few years. But the important thing is that we found them. For one reason or another, the
individuals wanted to make sure their plan was still valid for their situation. Sometimes,
the plans are still a perfect fit them. Most of the time, however, people realize it isn't
perfect for them. Often, the holes can be easily and quickly corrected.


We urge you to make sure your plan is still perfect for you. The process to review
your estate plan is often much simpler than the original planning process. Please don't
simply dismiss this offer without carefully considering the consequences of being wrong
- after you are gone, your worldly assets may not be left to whom you wish.