This Valentine's Day is the final holiday before we mark one full year since COVID-19 first hit the United States. With limited capacity in restaurants, cold weather, and social distancing keeping us indoors and at home, it will surely be another “different” holiday celebration for couples and loved ones in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. While this year has taught us to be creative in lieu of being in control, it has also shown us how planning ahead for difficult times can offer peace of mind. So, when thinking of how best to say “I love you” this year, consider giving the gift of a clear estate plan, structured to ease the legal stresses of the people you love most.
“I Love You Wills” – What are They?
An “I Love You Will” is a will that leaves everything one spouse owns at death to their surviving spouse. Many times, these wills also have provisions leaving property to children if the spouse does not survive. These wills are common and, at their heart, reflect the core estate planning objective of most American families – providing for loved ones in a simple, straightforward manner. They can operate as intended for some.
However, “simple” I Love You Wills do not always translate to a straightforward application. Property that passes through a will at death, by law, must go through a court process which imposes fees based on the value of the assets, and sets court-dictated timelines for legal filings. The fees can be substantial, the timelines lengthy, and the court process for documenting how the property is passed – complicated. The court activities are also on public record, so the decedent's assets, as well as the beneficiaries who ultimately receive them, are not kept private within the family. Therefore, many times in an effort to keep things “simple,” surviving family members are instead left with a long, overwhelming, and expensive legal process during a time of grief.
In addition, basic wills can sometimes fail to meet a client's true objectives and have unintended consequences. For example, the surviving spouse could decide to leave assets at their death to beneficiaries not originally intended by the couple (e.g. a new spouse to the exclusion of the couple's children). I Love You Wills also exclude they type of asset protection that can insulate the surviving spouse's assets from creditors.
Planning and Peace of Mind
Although planning for the impact of death may not be your typical romantic gesture, having a structured, thought-out legal strategy in place that is tailored to accomplish personal and familial goals can ease financial and logistical burdens for loved ones.
Our firm's values drive us to work closely with our clients to understand their unique motivations, goals, and principles. Then, we partner with clients to educate, inform, and empower them to choose the best legal plan available so their legacy minimizes or even eliminates legal uncertainties or unnecessary complications. We strive to give our clients continued peace of mind, a gift that can be given to spouses, partners, next generations, and loved ones.
As one of our recent clients said in a Google review, Erin Patterson "was thorough in walking us through the various options, addressing ALL our questions, and understanding our unique needs and goals, and efficient in getting everything into place. We are so grateful for her and for the peace of mind we now have with our estate plan in place.”
Contact us this Valentine's Day - or anytime - to learn more about how to say “I Love You” with an estate plan customized to serve you and your family.