Do You Have a Will or a Won’t?

OK, I stole that line from a Chris Rock movie, but it is a good question. Will your family know what to do if you were to die unexpectedly? Even worse, will they be allowed to? I am not a lawyer, but I do know that if you die without a will, it creates lots of problems for the family from both a personal and legal stand point.  Sadly, I saw this with a family member who thought that they were taken care of by a will, and found out too late that it was not so.  It became a big issue for the family and left people skeptical, hiring their own lawyers to investigate that happened, and in the end, they simply aren’t talking anymore.  From a legal standpoint, my understanding is that the state can exercise control over one’s estate if they have not made it clear what to do. You lawyers out there can feel free to step in at any time.

I believe that people don’t have their will prepared for two reasons; superstition and money. Some are superstitious about wills and life insurance, believing that if you prepare for these events they will happen.  The bad news is that “it” will happen whether or not you are prepared (the probability – save a divine intervention – is 100%).  As far as cost, you can spend anywhere from $300-$700 for a basic will, and if your situation is complex or you feel better about using higher priced attorneys, it could cost you more.

The good news is that there is a great way to have your will prepared very affordably and have it updated every year, and that is by having a legal services plan. There are a handful of reputable companies that offer legal service plans, but the company that I have personal used since 1998 is PrePaid Legal Services. They offer a host of legal services for you and your family for a low monthly fee ($17), and include the preparation of your will at no additional cost. Even better, they will allow you to update your will every year at no additional cost, and will prepare your spouses will for just a $20 fee. You may be thinking what kind of lawyers do they have doing this work or perhaps they use interns or legal assistants.    Well, the bottom line is that they use some of the top rated attorneys out there, and they can afford to do this due to the power of volume buying.  For example, I have been a member of PrePaid Legal since 1998 (I think I foolishly dropped it for a few years in between), but since 2005, I have paid them every single month along with thousands of other members.  That adds up to a lot of money, a portion of which is paid to the law firm.

Having a legal service plan is kind of like insurance. Most people do not realize that they are more than two times as likely to be sued than  hospitalized, yet most would not go without health insurance. My plan has paid off exponentially because I have had lawyers go to traffic court with me, and most of all, when I tell someone they will hear from my lawyer, they do. The lawyers you get access to with PrePaid Legal will also make phone calls or write letters on your behalf in the event that you are wronged (this got me a $2,000 settlement from a Fortune 100 Company back in 2005).  Just the other day, someone who owed me money was not returning my emails and I used this line; “if I don’t hear back within 5 business days, I will have a third party contact you.”  I am sure he knew what that meant and promptly returned my email and told me when I would have a check. If you are wondering why this seems to happen to me so much, its because a) people often lack integrity in business  and b) I have ownership in more than one business.

As you can hopefully tell, this is not just a sales pitch. It’s me talking about a service that use, believe in, and believe that every family should have. I hope you take this to heart and if you don’t have a will, I encourage you to enroll your family in a PrePaid Legal plan. You will have so much more peace of mind by knowing that you have a legal team at your disposal, and also knowing that you have you will prepared and can have it updated annually.  Most of all, I wish you abundant health and pray that your family does not have to look at your will for a long time.

Have a great day!