Writing a will can be unpleasant, but it is time worth spending

Story by TIM GRANT
Tribune News Service

Contemplating one’s own demise is not what many people would consider a fun activity.

But the time and energy spent writing a will – regardless of how young or how broke the person
may be – means being able to choose what eventually happens to financial assets and personal items. It also could make the difference between war and peace among surviving family members, not to mention avoiding having sizable chunks of the estate eaten up by legal fees.

“People think they will live longer than they end up living,” said E. David Margolis, a trusts and estates attorney.

“A will is something that is easily put off and unfortunately it can be put off until the person passes.

“Sometimes people have to make very tough decisions, and they are prone to put off making those decisions.”

A 2012 survey by rocketlawyer.com, a legal services website, found 50 percent of Americans with children do not have a will. The top three reasons were procrastination, a belief they don’t need one and cost.

Minneapolis-based Allianz Life found in its 2012 American Legacies study that 53 percent of people in their survey who were older than 72 placed a high value on minimizing conflict between family members when they set about planning a successful transfer of inheritance. More than a third – 38 percent – of elders said making sure their wishes were fully carried out was important.

“By virtue of their age and getting closer to the end of their longevity, passing away is more on their minds,” said

Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer insights at Allianz. “They want to make sure specific personal items go to people who are important to them, and they want to make sure their decisions don’t cause conflict for their children or heirs.”

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