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Where There's No Will...

Article

Going without a will is a really bad idea, and yet, based on several different surverys, it is highly likely that if you chose a doctor at random, he or she wouldn't have one. There's really no excuse as a simple will is cheap.

If you’re a doctor, odds are working takes up most of your day. Who has time to think about wills and estate planning? Busy doctors may have some excuse for not getting deeply into estate planning, which can take both time and money, but going without a will, which is the basic tool of estate planning, is just a really bad idea.

Based on several different surveys, however, most doctors don’t have a will, despite the fact that the results of dying without a will can be disastrous. If you die without a will, the state will take over your estate and the courts will decide how your assets are divided. If you have more than one child, for example, most states will award only a third of your estate to your surviving spouse and the rest will go to your children. The state may also appoint a legal guardian for your minor children.

With the estate tax repealed this year unless Congress acts, the estate planning picture is even muddier than usual, which may mean that there’s more need for professional help, especially if your estate is in the seven-figure range. But even if you don’t fall into that category, there’s no reason to go without a will. A simple will is cheap even if a lawyer does it for you. Doing it online can be even cheaper — at Nolo.com, you can not only find a huge amount of information on wills, trusts, an estate planning, you can also create a simple will for just $50.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice