Home & Leisure

Do you have a will? Without an estate plan, families can struggle to sort it out

Lauren Lindstrom, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Amid the grief of losing a loved one, families are dealt additional burdens when the person did not leave behind a will or estate plan.

Without one, it can open the door to family disputes or significant court costs to settle an estate. But only a little more than half of Americans over 55 have a will, according to a 2019 survey by Merrill Lynch.

Collette Davis, an estate planning and probate attorney in Charlotte, tells her clients it’s critical to put their wishes in writing so that health care and financial decisions are handled responsibly at the end of their life.

“This is the best thing they could do to help their family and eliminate any kind of discord down the road,” she said.

It can help with the most routine aspects of settling someone’s affairs or provide additional protection for more rare occurrences. Davis laid out three key steps to take when estate planning, though others may be necessary for someone’s specific financial, health or family situation. She recommends that everyone:

—Create a living trust


A living trust lays out plans for someone while they are still alive and after death, including instructions for medical care and how to divide up all assets, including property, businesses and investments.

—Write a will

While most of the directives should be covered in the living trust, Davis said, writing a will can serve as a back-up document to lay out how property and other assets should be divided.

But what about handwritten wills?


swipe to next page
©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus