While it is not a fun topic to bring up, a will is a very important thing to have. Even if you have what you consider to be a simple estate, you may be surprised to learn that some legal and financial planning is necessary to make sure your family receives what they should.
A written will saves your family time, money and headaches. Think of your will as the last big gesture you can make to take care of the people and causes that are important to you.
When people die intestate, or without a will, their state’s succession laws apply. The heirs are picked by the legislature, not by you. The musician Prince, actor James Gandolfini, and artist Pablo Picasso are all examples of famous people who died without a will. In Picasso’s case, his heirs spent years battling for control of his estate which was valued at over $200 million at the time of his death. Without proper planning, the estate of a person who dies without a will may incur extra legal expenses and higher taxes, in addition to costly legal battles and lawsuits.
A will is a simple document to get executed and allows you to direct who inherits what from your estate. You decide where your property goes, who takes care of your children and pets and whether a charitable cause that you believe in can receive meaningful support. No matter who you are or how much money you have, your loved ones and the causes you care about are more likely to benefit from estate and financial planning work, including a will.
Thoughtful preparation in advance will go a long way towards avoiding headaches, confusion and tax complications. This can have a positive effect on your overall mental health, as well as provide peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order in case of an emergency or accident. Whether you are famous or not, take care of your family today by making sure you have a thoughtful plan in place for them.
There are many ways to make a gift of a lifetime to a cause or organization you believe in. Most non-profits work with individuals who wish to leave a part of their personal estate to fund a meaningful program or project through:
- Beneficiary designations
- Charitable gift annuities
- IRA qualified charitable distributions
- Donor-advised funds
- Memorial and tribute gifts
- Real estate, vehicle and art donation
Technology has made creating a will easier than ever before. Ochsner has partnered with FreeWill, an online tool that provides legal forms and legal information that our supporters can use to create a valid will. FreeWill uses a clear step-by-step procedure that takes around 20 minutes to complete. You answer questions about who you are, your heirs, your pets, your assets and how you want them distributed. You can even leave a bequest to a charity like Ochsner Health if you choose. It is free to use at your own pace, with no obligation.
At Ochsner, our generous donors allow us to succeed in our mission to serve, heal, lead, educate and innovate. Planned gifts provide cutting-edge, high-quality care for our patients, their caregivers and their families for years to come.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 21, 2016.
Be a part of Ochsner's history. Support the future of patient care with a planned gift today.