14 October, 2016
In a fictional survey, four out of five people indicated they would rather have a tooth drilled without anesthesia than to read their own last will and testament. Four out of five dentists approved the survey. The point being is that a true majority of Americans choose to stick their head in the sand rather than to reckon with their own mortality and deal with their personal affairs, which is the ostrich approach to estate planning.
Mr. and Mrs. Broussard were married at a very young age in 1968. Their marriage was perfect at first, but they quickly learned that they really didn't like each other that much. They separated within a year or so, but the marriage continued on again, off again for many years (there is a fine line between love and hate). They eventually had three children before deciding to permanently live separate and apart in 1975.
Mr. Broussard started a business in 1978. Like many small businesses, it provided a living, but not much more than that. Mrs. Broussard was a school teacher. Mr. and Mrs. Broussard didn't bother to get divorced until 1995.
In 1997, Mr. Broussard's business really started to take off and by 2005 he was tremendously successful. Mr. Broussard neglected to partition his assets after the divorce. Though he started the proceeding many times, he just never followed through because it was a difficult process. Mr. Broussard died in 2015 and his business was worth $20 Million.
Just before he died, Mr. Broussard executed a hand written will leaving all his assets, including the business, to his favorite child, but nothing to his other two children, who immediately filed a petition to annul the handwritten will.
Enter Mrs. Broussard who is now ready to claim her one-half (1/2) interest in the business that was formed during marriage, but never partitioned after divorce. The situation is a complete mess resulting in many years of litigation because Mr. Broussard neglected to take care of his personal affairs. He stuck his head in the sand.
The facts of this story are surprisingly not that unique and the source of the problem is shared across the board. When it comes to estate planning or dealing with personal affairs, most people prefer the ostrich approach. According to an actual survey cited by Forbes in 2014, 51% of Americans age 55 to 64 do not have wills. Further, 62% of Americans between the age 45 to 55 and 67% of women in that age group do not have wills.
No one will deny that it is tough to muster up whatever it takes to reckon with your own mortality, i.e., consider your estate plan and put it in place. But the good news is that you probably only have to do it once, not every six months like going to the dentist.
Theus Law Offices provides a complete range of estate planning services, including wills, trusts, probate, successions, estate administration and probate litigation. If you are facing an estate planning issue or will contest and need a Louisiana estate planning attorney, estate lawyer or probate attorney in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, Monroe, Central Louisiana or elsewhere, let our estate planning lawyers and probate attorneys help you.
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