I Don’t Need a Will or a Trust- Eight Stubborn Words That Can Spell Disaster for Every Family

By Daniel A. Perry, Esq.

I speak with many families every day regarding estate planning, trusts, wills, power of attorneys, and general estate planning legal matters. However, the most common statement that I receive is something similar to the following:

I don’t need a Last Will and Testament and I also don’t need a Trust. All of my financial accounts have beneficiaries named, all of my stocks and bonds have beneficiaries and transfer on death designations completed, and I own my home jointly with my spouse. Also, I have less than $11.2 million in assets, so I’m not worried about estate taxes. I just don’t need to do any estate planning.


Among all the statements and questions that I hear, the one above is by far the most common. However, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Avoiding estate tax is just one of the many estate planning concerns that families may have. In addition, simply naming a beneficiary on a financial account may not be all that you need to do to provide for your family. I see it every day, families do no estate planning because they don’t think they need it given that their assets are titled jointly and how they have designated their financial accounts. Then, when a family member dies, it wasn’t done correctly, and the family ends up in probate for the next 10 months to 2 years or longer.

Probate isn’t the only concern. The following is a list of questions and concerns that could occur from the type of estate planning for a family in the situation described above:

  1. Do you want your children’s inheritance to be subject to divorce and creditor claims?
  2. Is it important for you to limit and protect your assets from loss in the event of a lawsuit during your lifetime?
  3. Do you want your children to receive their inheritance all at once or over a period of time?
  4. Do you want to provide part of your estate to your grandchildren so that they may have a small savings when it’s time to go to college?
  5. Do you have any pets? Who is going to take care of your pets if you should pass away?
  6. Do you want to limit your children’s income tax and capital gains tax liability when they sell assets that they inherited from you?
  7. Do you want to protect your wealth from future nursing home costs and expenses?
  8. How would you feel if your children received none of your inheritance because you had to spend all of your wealth during your final years on your medical costs?
  9. Is it important to you to protect your home from Medicaid estate recovery rights after you and your spouse pass away?

Why Estate Planning is Imperative for your Family’s Future

These are just a few of the questions and concerns that can arise when you fail to put a proper plan in place to provide for the smooth transition of your assets to your loved ones when you are gone. Simply thinking that just because you have beneficiaries named on all of your accounts and the rest of your assets are owned jointly with a spouse, does not mean that you are not a candidate for estate planning. The above nine questions show you why estate planning is imperative for every family.

For these reasons, it is important, at the very least, to sit down with an estate planning attorney so that you may discuss your family’s unique circumstances and a possible estate planning strategy for your family.

For More Information

If you have questions regarding how to structure the best estate planning strategy for you and your family, then please contact our office for a complimentary visit so that we can discuss your estate planning needs.

We look forward to hearing from you!