In 1624, John Donne wrote, “…never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

True then. True almost 400 years later. All of humanity is intertwined when the funeral bells ring.

I was reminded of this last month when I heard that one of my prospective clients, a healthy young man of 50, had collapsed on the sidewalk without notice, and died from a heart attack. He never dealt with that possibility and died without a Will. Because his wife had died a few years earlier, he left his 10-year-old son with no designated guardian.

Always amazing how people will be responsible in providing during their lives, but just won’t get around to taking care of their affairs arising from their death. Just as amazing how many people wrote a Will years ago and never review it to see it reflects their current wishes and the people designated therein are still living.

After Eleanor Roosevelt made her dangerous transatlantic flight, her daughter was asked whether her mother was scared of dying on the trip. Eleanor’s attitude? She just couldn’t see herself not being here. I guess that is true for most, but the undisputed fact is that “You will not get out of this life alive.”

The Dallas Morning News recently reported that over 60% of Americans do not have a Will. You are never too young or too old to be concerned with providing for your loved ones and protecting property for which you have worked so hard. Whether you are starting a family or a couple now reaching years with fond memories, planning with adequate legal counsel about state law and federal taxation law is essential.

Even though Texas has thankfully streamlined the procedure for probate with a valid, self-proving Will, if you either have no Will or one not in compliance with the law, the procedure will be much more expensive. Imagine the necessity of an intestate administration with additional court and attorney involvement in hearings and other formalities.

Today in the Internet age, with easily available services offering DIY forms for Wills, some do use them to save money. However, this is the one document you will sign in your lifetime which may not be acceptable for probate if it contains an error in requirements.

Unfortunately, that will not be discovered until after you cannot make any corrections or changes.

What one sows today, one will reap in the future. If you don’t have a Will in existence, I urge you to get one. If you have a Will that you haven’t reviewed in the last 5 years to see if it is current in your wishes, and the people you have designated therein, I urge you to get it out and review it with competent counsel.

Questions? Feel free to call me at no charge: 214-696-9900, and I will attempt to answer your concerns.

– Paul W. Brown

This is an article written by Paul W. Brown, from the Law Office of Paul W. Brown, P.C.  Tel: (214) 696-9900 | Fax: (214) 369-0214 Published with permission.

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