Associate Michael Barker Quoted in Richmond Times-Dispatch on Need for Wills

May 17, 2016

The Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted Richmond associate Michael Barker (Tax and Employee Benefits) in a May 14 story about the risks associated with not having a will or trust. The article noted that an estimated 55 percent of Americans die without a will or estate plan, according to an American Bar Association study.

“The primary reason most folks don’t do an estate plan, be it a will or a trust, is because they have psychological barriers to facing their death,” Barker told the newspaper. “If you have 30 minutes in our busy lives, are you going to call your lawyer or find a lawyer? Or are you going to pick up your kids, pay the mortgage and get the car washed?”

Barker pointed out that the legal system provides default beneficiaries if a person does not have a will, but assets may not be distributed to intended beneficiaries under default laws. “The modern family looks different than it did when Thomas Jefferson initially drafted the default laws,” Barker said. “These days, many families have relationships that don’t fit into the traditional family structure.”

Barker said untangling the estate of legendary musician Prince — who died in April — is more complicated than usual because it involves IP rights and other holdings. “A proper estate plan would have simplified the process.”