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Home > Blog > Estate Planning > Is Optimism an Overrated Estate Planning Strategy?

Is Optimism an Overrated Estate Planning Strategy?


Writing your will when you are young is a much better idea than not writing one.  If you have minor children, the last thing you want is to leave open the possibility of your parents and your in-laws fighting in court for years over which family should get custody of your children if both you and your spouse die before your children reach adulthood.  Even if you do not own any property of value, you still need a will because, if anything, it protects your spouse from having to fight with your parents over where you should be buried.  Married people under 55 who have never been divorced tend to write their wills according to a format that estate planning lawyers sometimes call “I love you” wills.  An “I love you will” states that, if you die before your spouse, your spouse inherits everything, and if your spouse dies first, your children inherit everything.  The good news is that “I love you” wills have the virtue of simplicity and they show your commitment to family togetherness.  As you get older, though, you will realize that your naïve young self who wrote the “I love you” will did not see the big picture.  A Bronx estate planning lawyer can help you decide which modifications, if any, you will want to make to the will you wrote when you were much younger.

“I Love You” Wills Can Cause Stress for the Surviving Spouse

The biggest problem with “I love you” wills is their unmitigated optimism.  They assume that both spouses will live to old age and that, if the couple has more than one child, all the children will be healthy and financially secure adults.  By the time you reach middle age, your health history and your spouse’s might indicate that one spouse is likely to outlive the other by a long time.  For example, if, at age 60, you have a clean bill of health, but your spouse has survived cancer twice and is still suffering the after-effects of cancer treatment, your life expectancy is probably much longer than your spouse’s.

What happens if, 15 years from now, your spouse has died, and you have remarried?  Your will still says that your children will inherit everything?  This is a recipe for a probate battle where your new spouse tries to claim an elective share of your estate, as he or she has a legal right to do.

Another problem is that most “I love you” wills grant equal shares of the estate to the children.  Estate planning lawyers can go over all the details with you over why this is or is not a good idea.  For example, if one of your children is unable to work for health reasons, you will need to find a way to account for his or her support.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning lawyer can help you account for scenarios you did not envision when you first wrote your will as an optimistic new parent.  Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.



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