A Dallas jury just returned a $4,000,000,000.00 verdict in the Dallas County Probate Court.
Yes, that is a lot of zeros, and no, this is not a misprint. It was a four billion dollar verdict against JPMorgan Chase for breaching their fiduciary duty.
There are many takeaways from this case; however, the main takeaway is the Decedent, who was an American Airlines Executive, had amassed an estate of more than $19 Million before passing away without a Last Will and Testament. While I cannot remark on why the Decedent did not have a Last Will and Testament, this is another reminder, and example, I can use for my clients to have the conversation on what they want and what they NEED. The bottom line is everyone NEEDS a Last Will and Testament.
What is the importance of having a Will?
Some people say ignorance is bliss. And while that may be true with some things, it is not with others. No one ever wants to think about their mortality, and while it is easy to just do nothing but live your life and only focus on the things that you want, I am here to tell you to think again!
Do I want to spend time thinking about what will happen to my assets that I have worked hard to for, when I die, NO I do not?
Do I want to spend time thinking about what will happen to my kids, who are young, when I die, NO I do not?
I try to teach my kids there is a difference between what we want and what we need. When my kids were very young, I started playing a game with them as we walked through the store. As we would walk down aisles, and (of course) they would pick out various items for me to buy, the game would be to answer the following question. “Is that item what you want or what you need?” I am sure you can guess the items that would make it into our basket. I wanted to teach them from an early age that it is important to make sure we take care of what we need before what we want.
Thinking about our mortality is not what we WANT, but it is what we NEED to do. As a probate attorney, I am reminded of this every day with the clients I meet.
The staggering statistic is that 70% of Americans do not have a Will. Although you may not have amassed an estate this large, we want to stress to you to not be a part of this statistic. You owe it to yourself and especially your family to do the responsible thing and speak with a qualified estate planning attorney to begin the conversation about your NEED for a Will.