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The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 25, 2021 • Issue 21:10:02


We won't be here forever

If you're an ISO owner, merchant level salesperson or other payments professional who has a properly signed and witnessed will tucked away, you might think every smart person with assets to protect takes care of this. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

According to an article in The Conversation written by law professors Reid Kress Weisbord and David Horton, 68 percent of American adults had no will in 2020, which is up from 2016 when LexisNexis reported 55 percent of that population had no will. Two surprising examples of people who died intestate are Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer in addition to being the sixteenth U.S. president, and, more recently, the brilliant musician Prince.

Common reasons why people delay estate planning are:

  • A perception that they are too busy to address it right now
  • A belief that their death is in the distant future, so there's no pressing need to get it done
  • A belief that their spouse will inherit their property whether they have a will or not
  • An inability to face the inevitability of their own mortality

If you're in this group, I urge you to start the process immediately and set a goal for when you intend to have your will completed.

What can go wrong?

There are multiple downsides to not having a will. In a May 13, 2016, article published by Huffpost, Ann Brenoff listed several "nasty" things that can happen if you die without a will. Among them are:

  • Children, spouses and ex spouses will fight. It will likely continue for a long time and be expensive.
  • Sentimentality and practicality will clash. You may want your daughter, for example, to have your mother's wedding ring, but other heirs might want to sell it for cash.
  • You won't be there to clarify different recollections of your wishes, and some heirs will accuse others of lying.

  • If you have pets, they may not be cared for.
  • You may not get the kind of funeral or memorial service you want.

I once had a friend who died suddenly when in his late forties. He had found the love of his life a few years prior. They'd recently become engaged and moved in together. But instead of walking down the aisle, his bride-to-be was booted out of the home they shared and not allowed to participate in planning his funeral arrangements. She even had to fight to reclaim her own clothes and jewelry. He had never prepared a will. Extended family, from whom he had long been estranged, took control and liquidated everything he owned in record time.

Don't let this happen to you. Your heirs will already be grieving your loss. Don't put them through the extra pain of having to wrangle with government agencies and insensitive relatives grabbing for a chunk of your estate. Making this passage as easy as you can for those you leave behind will be an enduring sign of your love for them. end of article

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