Not having a Last Will can really cost you (and your family). I just read in the news this morning that Prince, the recently deceased musician and movie star, had no Last Will. Amazing. All those millions; all those fans; he accomplished so much, and yet, he forgot, or just didn’t get around to doing one simple thing that will endanger the relationships in his family and the value of his estate forever.
Depending on the sized of the estate, doing a Will (also called a Last Will and Testament), can cost as little as about $250.00, but what it can save you and your family, both in money and relationships, is literally unlimited. I don’t recommend doing the online Wills because they cannot provide the expertise that a trained lawyer has to recognize an issue that needs to be considered and managed, which could detrimental if not handled correctly.
In Texas, if you have a Will, contrary to what a lot of people think, the probate process is very straightforward and simple. However, if you do not have a Will, as a part of probating your estate, the Court must also make a determination of who your heirs are by what is called an “Heirship Proceeding.” In addition to having to hire a lawyer to file for probate, the Heirship Proceeding also requires that an Attorney Ad Litem be appointed (at a substantial cost) to research, investigate, and determine if there were any unknown heirs. Having to have an Heirship Proceeding can result in a cost several times what a simple probate with a Will costs. Even if it is a smaller estate, the cost of having to do the Heirship Proceeding can result in the family members receiving a smaller inheritance because of the cost of the proceeding to determine who the heirs are. If you have an estate that is larger, not having a Will becomes even more important; not having a Will in a larger estate often results in endless family fights in court that can cost the estate a fortune.
It saddens me when people say, “the lawyers got everything.” If that happens because a person forgot, or just failed to take the time and spend the $250 for a simple Will, that is not the lawyers’ or the justice system’s fault–it is the responsibility of any of us who fail to take care of our business. If we don’t have a Will, the state has a process that will be required to take care of our business. Don’t put yourself in that position. Take the time and spend the little bit of money necessary to take care of having your Last Will prepared so that your family will not have to deal with that additional problem at the end of your life.