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Can I prepare my Will without my husband?


Question:   I have been telling my husband for the past five years that we need to get our estate plan in order. I am afraid that something may happen to us and we may leave our children with a real mess. Is there anything I can do? Can I prepare my Will without my husband?


Answer:   Yes, you can prepare a Will without your husband, but I highly discourage that approach because you and your husband need each other in the estate planning process, and because you could pass away before your husband, and in that event, everything could pass outside of your Will. 


Be encouraged!  Your situation is not unique.  It is surprising how often we encounter husbands who seem to be unaware of their own mortality and who need to be gently, persistently and lovingly reminded of it by their wives or their children.  Husbands are approximately seven times more likely to pass away before their wives, but often find it extremely difficult to confront their mortality and plan for the inevitable.  Here are a few ideas that other wives have tried successfully. 


Education.  Speak with your husband regularly about the consequences that could occur if you do not do proper estate planning.  Some of these consequences are: (a) a judge will pick the guardian for your minor children if you don’t have a will, (b) your estate may be subject to inheritance taxes that approach half of the value of your taxable estate (including life insurance at face value), (c) your estate may be subject to probate costs that can range from 3% to 8% of the value of your estate, and can arise in each state where you own property, (d) your estate may be subject to probate delays that can run from 6 months to many years, during which time your assets will be tied up and may not be available for family needs, (e) young children or grandchildren may receive their inheritance at a young age, (f) you or your husband might get “stuck on life support”, and (g) in the event one of you becomes incompetent from a stroke or Alzheimer’s Disease, your may be unable to access your retirement funds.


Expressed importance.  Some wives have expressed discomfort with long distance travel (such as vacation) until their estate plan has been put in order.


Encouragement.  Let your husband know that the estate planning process is not as difficult as it seems.


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