Wills are the most common estate planning document, but they aren't right for everyone. While a will is likely better than whatever you find online, there are issues and costs that wills don't protect. A will leaves everything to your spouse, and then to children in equal shares if your spouse dies before you. Sounds simple enough, right?
Wills Don't Protect Stepchildren
Wills and blended families don't mix well. Couples are sometimes surprised to learn that a will can be revoked at any time, and a new will revokes an old one. Since each spouse has a separate will, the surviving spouse is free to change the plan after the first spouse dies. This happens more often than you think. It even happens in families that aren't blended, especially when the surviving spouse remarries. If you want a plan that is binding on a surviving spouse, that usually requires a trust instead of a will.
Wills Don't Protect Disabled Spouses
If you live to a ripe old age, chances are greater that you will leave behind a spouse who needs someone to care for them. It's not uncommon for spouses to care for each other, but that plan falls apart when the first spouse dies. Your will can include a special trust to hold assets in case your spouse needs help, which could make it easier to qualify for government benefits to pay for care. Money in the trust can be used to pay for extra things that benefits don't cover. If the surviving spouse needs care, they get the best of both worlds. If they don't, the trust isn't needed so it doesn't complicate things. Unless a couple has enough money to pay for an unlimited amount of long term care--which is frightfully expensive--why wouldn't they want to include this in their wills? I included it in almost all of the plans for married couples.
Wills Don't Protect Young People
If you have adult children, you may think this is not an issue for you. But what happens if one of your children dies before you do? Your grandchildren could take in their place. Including a simple trust for children in your will can prevent bequests to very young people. It is especially important for families with children to address this in their planning.
Wills Aren't the Only Option
You can and should use an appropriate planning tool that may be other than a will. At the same time, too many choices can seem overwhelming. My goal is to provide you with the option you need without complicating your plan.
Thoughtful estate planning can help protect your family from these issues and many others. Find out how by calling 307.200.1914 and scheduling a free phone consultation. Not ready to schedule? Please see the links on the webpage for trusts and other asset protection articles.