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Where There's a Will, There's a Way to Protect Loved Ones, Assets

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Friday, August 26, 2022   

August is National Make-a-Will Month, a reminder for people to get their affairs in order to avoid unintentionally burdening their families when they die.

In a survey on the website Caring.com, only one-third of Americans have a will or living trust.

Patrick H. Murphy, attorney for OurSimpleWill.com, said the absence of a will or an estate plan can lead to unintended consequences. For example, a typical Arkansas married couple with children often assumes when one partner dies without a will, 100% of their assets would naturally flow to the spouse.

"In Arkansas, it's actually not the case," Murphy explained. "Your spouse would be entitled to one-third of your stuff as the surviving spouse, but your children would then have two-thirds. You know, you may have minor children that don't need two-thirds of your stuff."

He explained a will gives you an opportunity to decide who the guardians of your minor children will be. He emphasized it is important to be proactive about planning, because without it, the court system will make a selection.

Murphy pointed out there are lots of reasons people put off making a will. They do not want to think about dying, or are worried about the cost, or are intimidated by meeting with a lawyer. Some also assume if they are not wealthy, they do not need a will, which he called a common misconception.

He added the website oursimplewill.com is one option for developing a comprehensive, affordable, attorney-vetted estate plan.

"It's very basic, essential, what I call the essential estate planning documents," Murphy stressed. "Everyone should have this, regardless of net worth. You should have powers of attorney, you should have a health care power of attorney and a last will and testament."

Murphy also noted the importance of having a "living will," which outlines your medical-care preferences in case you cannot speak for yourself. He said it can provide a family some much-needed direction during a time of duress.


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