In one of my favorite movies, “Moonstruck,” Cher’s character’s mother, played by Olympia Dukakis, kept on asking different people: “Why do men chase women?” After a couple of answers that seemed wrong to her, her potential but ultimately jilted future son-in-law answered: “I don’t know! Maybe it’s because they fear death.” “That’s it! That’s the reason!” And the fear of death or maybe the drive and passion to live a meaningful life seems to me to be the theme that tied the whole movie together. It seemed to be presented as a choice, to either run around and fear death or to pursue life with gusto during the time you have – even if such pursuit will never be perfect. Sit on the sidelines or get in the game because the clock is running and you only have one chance. Make it a good one.
My “Olympia Dukakis question” is “Why don’t people get their wills or trusts or estate plans established during their lifetimes when they’ve had plenty of opportunity?” Of course, the answer is the same as the one Olympia Dukakis’ character received: it’s because people fear death. The spoken reasons that I hear most as a will, trusts, estate, and probate attorney are: “been meaning to get around to it, too busy, waiting for the right time, and too complicated.” The saddest reasons I usually hear after a death has occurred are that the survivors never expected this to happen now. Think about that. It’s Death. By its very nature, we do not know the day or hour it will occur – but it will. Life by its very nature is complicated. We all know that and that was another one of the points illustrated in “Moonstruck.”
Who will receive your legacy, how much they will receive and when/how your survivors receive your assets can be determined by you unless it’s not written down. Your home state will be glad to take your assets through intestacy, under some (not all) circumstances, if you do not write your plan into a will or trust. Such planning can be complex, but without it, the resolution of an intestate estate can often be far worse if there is litigation or a taking of the estate by the “wrong” survivors. Money, stepfamilies, special needs, multi-state real properties, greed, apathy, and bad will/trust drafting are what I encounter as the most common causes of postmortem problems.
“Life is what you make of it.” “Don’t worry, be happy!” “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” Idioms or maxims are what they are because of the truth they speak. Life is complex and it’s hard, as your mother probably said and as Time magazine recently put on their cover: “Deal with it!” If you don’t deal with your estate plan, most likely your family will have to resolve more difficult and expensive issues after you’re gone.
We help people and families live better lives by making it easy for you to take care of these complex planning and probate issues, with less worries and lifelong support. Don’t let the fear of death or the fear of loss (of your money) get in the way of getting a great estate plan and living a better life with “one less thing to worry about.” For when you plan a good estate, you are really planning for a good future for your family.