Your parents pass away without an estate plan. They didn’t even write a will. Since you never talked to them about it in advance, you’re shocked. You definitely thought they had a will. You thought everyone did.
The reality, though, is that a lot of people do not draft wills, and it leads to all sorts of problems for their children. Among those are arguments when kids do not agree on what their parents would have wanted while dividing assets. Without a will to direct them, the children can wind up spending months or even years in court.
So, why don’t people write wills? What are some of the main reasons they give for this oversight?
1. They don’t realize that tomorrow is not promised. They assume that they have a long time before they’ll need a will. They understand that they should write a will, and they fully plan to do it, but they don’t think they need to do it yet.
Remember, you never know when an unexpected death is going to take a loved one away or take you from your family. Disease. Car accidents. Heart attacks. Natural disasters. They can all strike with little to no warning.
2. They keep procrastinating. This is related to the above, but it goes a bit beyond that. Even people who know they don’t have forever to draft the will — those with terminal illnesses, for instance — may keep procrastinating. They don’t really want to do it or they feel like it’s overwhelming or they don’t know where to start. So they put it off until it’s too late.
3. They can’t accept the idea of death. It’s part of life and we all know it, technically, but it’s hard for some people to wrap their heads around it. They don’t want to think about it, and drafting a will forces them to think about it. No matter how necessary it appears, they refuse to do it.
4. They haven’t been in your shoes. Giving you an estate without any direction can cost you a lot of money and cause all sorts of problems with your siblings. If your grandparents had a will, then your parents may never have gone through that. They don’t realize what it means to you, and they’d never do it if they did.
No matter why your parents put you in this position, you’re here. You need to learn how to move forward and get through the probate process. You need to know what to do if the lack of a will leads to estate disputes and other complications. It’s time to get started.