Estate planning is necessary to properly honor your wishes after death. Wills and Trusts serve different purposes, but often the words are interchanged. Find out the difference and what is right for your situation.
If you die without a Will, it is called “dying intestate”. The government, and not you, will get to decide who gets your money and who does not. There are state laws that say who gets what in this situation. Generally, your spouse will be the first in line, followed by your children, then your parents, then your grandchildren, and then your siblings. So if you don’t want your estate to fall into the hands of one of these people, and you die without a Will, there’s nothing you can do.
Be sure you don’t confuse a Will with a Living Will. A Will says who gets your assets and personal belongings when you die. A Living Will gives permission to your loved ones to allow you pass away gracefully. These are two very different documents. It is very important to know the differences between the 2 types of Wills so you pick the right one for the right job. Having the wrong type of Will can be bad for you and your estate.
Did you know that you can include the appointment of a guardian in your Will? Yes, it’s true. You can actually put in who you would want want to be the guardian of your children in case you die. Your named guardian steps into your parenting shoes. This is important because if you don’t have this in writing, a Judge will decide who will raise your children. And you don’t want that to happen, do you?
You can say that someone should not receive money from you under any circumstances. If you tell people you don’t want someone to inherit from you, and you don’t put it in writing, then it means nothing. You need to specifically state in a Will that so and so shall not receive any inheritance. Saying that person should get $1 is not sufficient. You need to totally exclude that person. You don’t want any confusion if you feel this way about someone.
This interesting fact, more than any of the others, shoud convince you to prepare a Will. A lot of people think the making of a Will is the most expensive part of things. But, if you don’t have a Will, then your loved ones could face the higher costs of probate and possible taxes in the future.
The last thing you want is for the people who are inheriting from you to fight for what you wanted to pass to them. A properly executed Will can certainly help prevent future battles. But, you can add in language to a Will that says if you fight, go to court and lose, you lose your entire inheritance. This is a major deterrent.
It is very important to keep your Will error-free. Mistakes can really put the validity of your Will in jeopardy and be very costly to litigate. If you don’t have the Will signed correctly, or you accidentally put the wrong money amount for someone, or you have sections that conflict with each other, your loved ones could have a major problem on their hands.
In order to avoid future hassles, if you get married, you need to change any existing Will you have. Even if you are not leaving all of your assets to your spouse, you still need to reflect the new marriage. If you get married and have kids from a prior marriage, you definitely want to change your Will to reflect how much your spouse gets of everything and how much your kids get of everything. If you get divorced, you definitely want to change your Will, especially because you probably no longer want your spouse in charge of your finances when you die.
With the advent of technology, your social media accounts and online assets are now part of your estate. Because of this, your executor needs to be informed about your digital legacy. This means that you can give the passwords and other details to your Personal Representative so he/she can access your digital accounts when you die. This is perhaps one of the most recent facts about Wills that everyone needs to know.
Despite the importance of Wills, more than 50% of people still don’t have them. They don’t take having a Will seriously enough or fail to understand its importance or implications. Remember, this is one of the most important legal documents you must have in your lifetime. It is not good for your heirs and your estate if you die without a Will.
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