August is Make-a-Will Month, a time dedicated to strategizing for the future. You may have seen in the news that Aretha Franklin's loved ones are still caught in a legal battle due to the existence of multiple wills. The lesson from this situation is clear: creating a thorough estate strategy might help families handle stress, while attempting to manage the legal process after our passing. A Will is not for ourselves but a tool that ensures our wishes are carried out in the clearest manner for those we leave behind. Without clarity, an already stressful time can be exacerbated.
I couldn't help but think of another influential figure who encountered challenges regarding their estate despite their success and fame.
On paper, Robin Williams had his estate strategy in place. He had most of his assets in a trust, in addition to having a will. While his estate made provisions for his house and financial assets, an important aspect of his legacy was overlooked— memorabilia. This unintentional oversight resulted in his wife and children taking opposite sides in court as they both claimed ownership. This illustrates the importance of a comprehensive estate approach, covering not only financial assets but everything you own.1
Make-a-Will Month allows us to reflect on our circumstances and take proactive steps to help our loved ones in the event of our passing. By creating a will, we are taking the first step toward providing clarity and guidance regarding the distribution of our assets, attempting to mitigate the burden on our family members during an already challenging time.
The second step is making sure your beneficiary designations and ownership titles for all of your assets also match your wishes! If you need some help with that, please don't hesitate to contact one of our advisors!
1. LATimes.com, March 30, 2015