In Taylor Phillip Willingham’s “Do I Need a Will or a Trust,” the respected lawyer carefully breaks down the difference between wills and trusts while urging people to stop waiting until the last minute to get their affairs in order.
MCKINNEY, TEXAS—It’s a startling statistic. Only 4 in 10 American adults have a will or living trust, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). For Texas estate planning attorney Taylor Willingham, this low number doesn’t really come as a surprise. In fact, he says some people’s failure to plan for “the end” is simply because they don’t want to admit that they will one day die.
“Most people also just don’t know it is important or why they need to do it,” stated Willingham. “Many people are also just indifferent. It is something you can put off until you can’t. It took me three years of being an estate planning attorney to get mine done, and I had two kids.”
Other reasons people avoid planning for end of life is because it can be expensive, complicated and requires effort, he added. Willingham, however, warns individuals to not let these factors stop them from planning for the future. While avoiding the issue may seem harmless, the financial burden and stress it can create for their loved ones is often enormous.
“All you are, are your memories. Your money is not you. True estate planning is to try to keep your memories and those you love alive for as long as possible,” stressed Willingham. “The best estate planning you can do at this moment is take out your phone. Film yourself leaving a message to your loved ones, and then store it somewhere where they can find it.”
Wills and trusts are two very important documents in life estate planning. In his latest book titled, Do I Need a Will or a Trust, the three-time author explains the difference between the two, reasons to create one or the other, the need to protect beneficiaries, how to avoid probate, the importance of keeping your estate off Google and much more.
According to Willingham, people over the age of 60, or those who have blended families, minor or disabled children or simply have loved ones they want to take care of will, benefit from the advice and real-life examples offered in this book. Although Millennials and Generation Z tend to feel invincible and that they have all the time in the world to think about life estate planning, they, too, can learn a thing or two from the book’s invaluable content.
“Young people often have large life insurance policies when they pass, leaving millions of dollars to sometimes old friends,” explained Willingham. “On one occasion, I had a client leave $1 million dollars to his ex-girlfriend. The parents were very upset because she was the reason he started using drugs, and she ended up with all his money.”
The price of creating a will or trust runs the gamut, costing anywhere from $200 to $20,000. The Texas attorney says it’s important for people to set a budget and know that they can generally get everything they need for $2,000 by a good estate planning attorney.
“If someone called me and said, ‘I have $1,200. Would you do all my documents for that price?’ Most attorneys would probably agree to do it for that price,” stated Willingham.
But doing nothing at all, he warns, should never be an option. Failure to do estate planning can not only take a financial and emotional toll on loved ones left to sort out the deceased’s belongings, it will also subject the distribution of the individual’s estate to the laws established by their state legislature.
“Many of these laws were established 100 of years ago,” Willingham said. “Times have changed. Property has changed. Families have changed. Don’t be a fool, and put your property in the hands of your state legislature.”
To learn more helpful advice regarding life estate planning, readers can purchase Willingham’s Do I Need a Will or a Trust on Amazon. The book is available on Kindle and paperback.
ABOUT TAYLOR PHILLIP WILLINGHAM: Taylor Willingham is an experienced estate planning and probate attorney located in McKinney, Texas. He is the founder of The Willingham Law Firm, PC and creator of Posterity Planning. Through his legal work, he enjoys creating a legacy for people to be remembered. In his spare time, he also enjoys writing content to help people understand the importance of estate planning. He is the author of three books: Why Should I Care, I’ll be Dead?, Helping Your Parent With Long Term Care and Do I Need a Will or a Trust.