An “I Love You Will” is a last will and testament in which the testator—the person who makes the will—leaves everything to his or her spouse. If you have thought about making a will in the past, you likely considered this approach. Perhaps you have already created such a will. If you would like clarification, make an appointment with Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law by calling (805)946-1550.
While an I Love You Will may be appropriate for certain situations, there are several potential problems you should take into account. First, it could unintentionally disinherit your children. How? Think about what would happen if you passed away and your spouse, who has inherited your assets through the I Love You Will, remarries and creates the same type of will. If your spouse passes away before his or her new spouse, the new spouse would inherit these assets. That is, your children might receive nothing. If this sounds like a big problem, feel free to set up a consultation with us at (805)946-1550.
Of course, an I Love You Will shares the limitations of basic wills in general. For example, if the surviving spouse develops Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, and no advance directives were created, estate assets may fall under the jurisdiction of a guardianship or conservatorship court. In that case, your wishes and those of your surviving spouse may be thwarted.
An I Love You Will also ensures your estate will have to go through probate. The probate process can take several months (or considerably longer) to complete. During the probate process, your spouse may be unable to access estate assets, which could make it difficult to pay expenses such as a mortgage, homeowner's insurance, property taxes, automobile loans, credit card bills, and more. In addition, probate is a public process, meaning anyone can discover information about your assets and debts that you would have wanted to remain private. Finally, the costs associated with probating an estate can be significant.
An I Love You Will may sound like a good idea, but to ensure your wishes are carried out and your assets are distributed efficiently to your loved ones, you may want to consider a trust-based estate plan. We invite you to contact us at your earliest convenience by calling (805)946-1550, or filling out our contact form on this website to discuss your options.