“So, you just gave me a very good reason why I don’t need a will”, a friend I’ll call Rob said to me.
“Okay, exactly what did I say that makes you think you don’t need one?”, I replied.
I am his lawyer on the minimal occasions that he needs one but mostly just his friend.
“Look, you just told me that if I don’t have a Will, then the State of Illinois is going to write one for me, correct?” Rob loves to argue and he smelled an opportunity. As per this type of person, though, he doesn’t enjoy losing.
“That’s a bit of colorful prose on my part about the State writing one for you but, in effect, the statutes become your estate plan,” I conceded.
I was hoping that I was not settling in for a full-force storm. Debating an idea to death in an all-nighter is a young man’s pursuit.
“You said that if I died today without a Will, the State would give half of my estate to my wife and half to my children. You also said that because I hold my house jointly with my wife, she gets that in full. So, that’s not so bad. It’s pretty much what I want anyway.” I have told Rob in the past that smug is never attractive but the smile on his face just then oozed it. (If you can picture smugness oozing out of the pores of someone’s face, it is not difficult to find it unattractive.)
“Okay, can I have two minutes uninterrupted?”, I retorted.
Rob frowned as it would be a major imposition for him to be silent for 120 seconds when he had just heated up to the challenge.
“Okay” he muttered, but not kindly.
“First, numero uno, if you have a Will, you can waive a surety bond. This alone could save your estate thousands of dollars as it has to remain in force for however long the estate is open.”
“Roman Numeral II, if you have a Will, you can waive court supervision of your estate; you do not have to pay an attorney to prepare a petition to sell your car, and then go back and make a report of sale. You can save a lot on attorney’s fees.”
“That’s Vietnamese for three and don’t interrupt. Since you name an Executor, you avoid having your children, who may not turn out so brilliant as yourself, from wasting their inheritance hiring lawyers to fight over who gets to administer your estate.”
Rob thought about some of the choices his kids had made lately and his cheeks darkened.
“Quatro, (I love that word, much more expressive than four), is half of your money enough to take care of Pattie? What does she do to replace your income? She’ll get social security for each kid until he or she hits eighteen, but what then?”
“Nummer funf: even worse, just when Pattie loses income as each kid turns eighteen, that kid suddenly has a bundle of money handed to him. How was your judgment at age 18? Don’t answer because it might dredge up memories it will take me years to expensive therapy to re-repress!”
“I’m almost finished so count to thirty in your head silently, but listen! We haven’t even addressed what parent’s conjure up in their darkest moments: what if you and Pattie were to die or become disabled in the same incident? Have you name Guardians for your children? Think about the lovely scene where your children, just devastated by the loss of their parents, become the object of a fight of dueling grandparents. If both sides act ugly enough, might even have your kids placed temporarily with strangers by some court. I can think of many more reasons but I think my two minutes are up.”
Rob didn’t immediately launch a retort, which generally transforms into a verbal fusillade, so I took this as a good sign.
“I’m gonna do one, and so will Pattie. And, we will figure out who our kid’s guardians are gonna be. One thing bugs me: I got a lot of life insurance and Pattie gets all of it so she should be okay-how do I leave the kids well-set?”
“At a minimum, in my Wills , I provide that any money which ends up passing to any person under the age of 21, passes to a Trust set up for their benefit. If they want to access it at age 18, it can only be used for post-secondary education. Otherwise, they get nothing at 18, and only ⅓ of it at age 21, ⅓ at age 25 and the final payout at age 30. At least they get three chances to be responsible.”
Rob smiled, “I bet the kids don’t like you much!”
“They hate me at 18 but mellow considerably by 30. I’ve seen worse. Went to court several years ago where Mom had delayed the payout to her daughter on the Trust to ages 30, 35, and 40. Mom was long dead and the Trustee was her lawyer here in Chicago. By the time the daughter turned 40, the lawyer had gone senile and been retired. She had to fly out here from California and we took the bank to court to release the funds. Of course, the mere fact that the daughter emigrated to California evidences a certain hedonistic bent on her part and Mom acted correctly to put some financial speed bumps in the road.”
JUST REMEMBER THAT NO ONE FORCED YOU TO READ THIS POLEMIC; but if you did and enjoyed it, I thank you.
Nelson David Blocher
We do this for a living at www.blocher-law.com or call us at 312-855-4477 or find us at Chicago Probate Lawyers or Chicago Probate Attorneys
Two members of the geezer generation debate the uncertain state of intestacy.