The Last Will And Testament – A Model NOT To Live By

The death of Anna Nicole Smith has at least one valuable outcome, even if it is simply serving as a model of what happens if you die intestate, i. e. without a last will and testament. One immediate point to take here, by the way, is the youth and vitality of the deceased. Few people who knew her, or knew about her, would have believed on that February morning that later that day they would hear that she was dead.

Wasn’t there something about, “Ye know not the day nor the hour”?

I may have the quote wrong, but you get my drift. It’s best to be prepared at any age if you have real concerns about what is going to happen to your estate, your heirs, or even your remains.

Even if you have not been purposefully following the televised “audition” as some are calling it, it has been hard to escape being exposed to some of the regretful details.

* Multiple claimants for the remains of Anna Nicole Smith – including her mother and at least two boyfriends.

* Multiple claimants for the custody of the child of Anna Nicole Smith – including her mother and at least two boyfriends.

* Multiple claims as to where the remains of Anna Nicole Smith should be buried.

The list goes on, but perhaps worst of all, is the complete uncertainty about the fate of her newborn daughter.

There are lawsuits in progress that may result in large sums of money.

While having an up-to-date last will and testament would not necessarily have solved all of these problems, it could have given the court a clearcut knowledge of her desires and wishes, and that is the ultimate goal of these proceedings…to determine the “will” of the deceased.

Looking at the time, expense, and trouble that this is costing the potential and possible heirs, would-be custodians, and supposed rightful mourners is bad enough, but realizing how much of this cost is being borne by the taxpayers of the state of Florida is adding insult to injury.

Okay, you and I don’t have millions of dollars to allocate upon our deaths, and we are sure that our mother, father, spouse, significant other, ___________ (fill in the blank) knows exactly what are wishes are. Do we really? Is it just and fair to assume that these people know who gets the money in the bank, who gets the house, or where we are to be interred. Is it to be the funeral of a veteran, or the burial of a civilian. Do we want to rest in that lovely cemetery beneath the pines overlooking that beautiful lake in northern Arizona, or ashes sprinkled over the Gulf of Mexico?

Years ago, my father died without a will. He and my mother owned the house they had paid for together over the years where my sister and I were raised. They had a shared bank account and some Certificates of Deposit which contained all the money they had been able to save out of both their paychecks. My mother’s only income was to be her (reduced) portion of my father’s retirement. Under the laws of the state of Florida, my sister and I had equal claim to all of that with our mother.

Fortunately, she had raised us right, and we signed over our rights to the estate without any hesitation or discussion, but, within our own extended family, we have seen the fights that can break out when the “will” of the deceased is not known, and we have seen the divisions and animosity that can develop between previously loving siblings and other family members.

Most of such results can be averted by simply drawing up a last will and testament and clearly stating your desires and wishes. While the services of an attorney, or at least a paralegal, can be invaluable, there are will forms and do-it-yourself last will and testament forms and software available for those who feel that an attorney may be too costly.

Whatever the discomfort of confronting the fact of death or the monetary cost now, however, having a last will and testament will often save a lot more expense and pain in the future.

Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer. He is a University of West Florida alumnus, a member of Mensa, and is retired from the U. S. Army. Learn more about the importance of your last will and testament at http://legal-forms-supermarket.com/about/last_will_and_testament.html .

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