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Make-a-Will Month a Good Time for End-of-Life Conversations

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022   

August is National Make-a-Will Month, and experts believe it is a good time for Arizona families to have a conversation about end-of-life plans.

According to research, almost seven out of 10 people do not currently have a will or an estate plan. Experts warn without a will, you lose control of your estate, which could be tied up in the courts for weeks or even months.

Sam Young, senior director of legacy and planned giving for Compassion & Choices, said it is never too early to begin charting an end-of-life journey.

"It's really hard to have a conversation about their mortality or their death," Young acknowledged. "COVID has made us more aware of this. It's not just being terminally ill or old. Unfortunately, any of us can have a situation where we have to face that mortality."

Young contended even though it may be difficult, it is important to have a family conversation about mortality sooner rather than later. He pointed out it is a powerful way to protect loved ones, make important decisions about the future on your own terms, and support the causes you value.

Experts warn in the absence of a will, the probate process can be expensive and take several months before a decision is made, during which assets will be frozen. Many people think wills are just for the rich, but Young argued no matter what your "estate" includes, everyone needs a plan.

"Part of the problem is just what I call the psychological dynamics of doing this and planning," Young explained. "It's just getting started. Another myth out there is that this is complicated or hard or this is going to be expensive or that you need an attorney."

Attorney fees to produce a will and testament in Arizona can be $1,000 dollars or more, depending on the complexity of the estate, but there is a cost-saving alternative. Compassion & Choices partners with the nonprofit FreeWill.com. The site, at no cost, can help enumerate your assets and final wishes in about 20 minutes. Once the completed will is printed, signed and notarized, it becomes a legally binding document.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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