According to researchers, Americans are more likely to die on three particular days of the year: Christmas Day, the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Why such an alarming trend (the death rate keeps rising, too)? Beyond the depression often felt by those who are alone or in hard circumstances at this time, doctors believe that the phenomenon may be the tendency of people to postpone medical care until after the holidays. Add the fact that hospitals are often under-staffed around now and the pattern is not so surprising.
Given this sobering data, it could happen to you.
Which prompts a huge question: Is your will in place?
Without a valid will, neither you nor your loved ones have control over who gets what. Worse yet, all assets are frozen by banks and no one has access to your accounts until a court grants the proper documents to your survivors. This could take months, even years. The court also determines who receives portions of the estate, even if your loved ones did not intend such distribution.
Everyone needs an estate plan, done correctly by a reputable attorney who can ensure that the will does exactly what you want it to do. Yet 55% of all adult Americans do not have a will, according to an estate-planning survey conducted by Harris Interactive® for Martindale-Hubbell®. Going online to do a will or buying a will kit does not guarantee that every base is covered; cutting corners could cost thousands of dollars to fix any holes.
If you have children—especially minors—having your will in place is even more critical. With a will, those you leave behind will not feel pressured and can have a chance to grieve. If you are no longer living with your children, dying without a will takes on a different dynamic and can result in fighting over assets and strained relationships. Is that what you want?
May your holiday season be a happy, healthy one. We do urge you to take a moment this month and think about how you want to be remembered. The peace of mind that comes from having your affairs in order with a valid will is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family.
Source: Harris Interactive® for Martindale-Hubbell®, 2007
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