Things People Ask Me at Gun Shows
WILLS AND WON’T
By SK. L. Jamison
No one gets off of this rock alive. Death is inevitable. Writing a will won’t hasten the inevitable, it only recognizes it. A will makes life easier for one’s heirs. A will directs that property be delivered to deserving persons and will reduce the court costs of probating the estate, often dramatically. Probate textbooks are replete with cases in which the legal fees consumed the value of theestate. Without a will, an estate will be dispersed according to rules established by the state legislature. This alone should send people screaming to the nearest estates and trust lawyer.
A gun trust will allow designated parties to use guns and accessories during the life of the author and distributes them on death. They are not just for machine guns anymore.
At an NRA annual meeting, a member told the inheritance advisor that he did not need a will because he had no property. He immediately qualified this poverty by mentioning some valued heirlooms and a 401(k). A question revealed that he had a life insurance policy which might be more easily disbursed through a trust. He easily conceded that he might die leaving a lawsuit against a negligent driver or surgeon with dementia.
An unintentional abuse against the next generation is the use of “will kits”. These are essentially fill-in-the-blank forms with instructions, which may or may not be up to date or reflect the law in the state where the will is signed. The kits will certainly not cover the unique considerations of every family. The matter will then be thrown into the probate courts for correction, if possible, or to be rewritten according to the rules set down by the legislature. The attempt to save money will cost the next generation a great deal of money.
The great advantage of having an attorney write the will is an institutional knowledge of the inherent problems of inheritance. Twenty-five centuries ago the courts in the City-State of Athens recorded will contests. Over the centuries lawyers have developed techniques to minimize will contests, either by writing wills correctly to begin with or by adding clauses which make disputes economically distasteful.Some people are convinced that writing a will is simple and should be cheap. They are entitled to their opinion just as probate lawyers are entitled to their toast, “Here’s to the testator who writes his own will.”