I have had many people tell me they only need a simple will. They feel that they don’t own very much and when they die, they just want what they own to go to their spouse and/or their children. It is not complicated, it is simple.
It does sound simple, but estate planning is not about what happens if everything goes according to plan, it is about planning for what happens if everything does not go according to plan. Once you start discussing the world of “what if” things are rarely simple.
For example, what if you and your spouse are in a car accident and one of you dies and the other one lives but now has a disabling injury. If your simple will doesn’t have provisions for a beneficiary in need of government benefits (now your spouse) to inherit through a special needs trust rather than outright, you have just created a complicated situation.
Or, what if your spouse survives the car accident and gets remarried and has additional children. Now your minor children’s potential inheritance from you is intermingled with a new family and not set aside separately for their benefit. That could create a complicated situation.
Finally, what if one of your children, or their spouse, is a lovely person but has poor judgment with money. Inheriting money outright may be more of a curse than a gift for that child. By taking the simple will route, you may have set the stage for major complications to develop.
Do yourself and your family a favor and hope for simple, but plan with an experienced professional for “what if”. It is our job to help you think about the “what ifs” that you may not be able to envision but that we see every day. Don’t be seduced into a potentially false sense of security by a simple will.