If You’re One of the 70% of Americans Without a Will, Read On…
2. Do you care who gets your money if you die?
3. Do you care who is appointed guardian of your minor children if you die?
You may amend your will at any time. In fact, it’s a good idea to review it periodically and especially when your marital status changes. At the same time, review your beneficiary designations for your 401(k), IRA, pension and life insurance policy since those accounts will be transferred automatically to your named beneficiaries when you die.
A will is also useful if you have a trust. A trust is a legal mechanism that lets you put conditions on how your assets are distributed after you die and it often lets you minimize gift and estate taxes. But you still need a will since most trusts deal only with specific assets such as life insurance or a piece of property, but not the sum total of your holdings.
Even if you have what’s known as a revocable living trust in which you can put the bulk of your assets, you still need what’s known as a pour-over will. In addition to letting you name a guardian for your children, a pour-over will ensures that all the assets you intended to put into the trust are put there even if you fail to retitle some of them before your death.
Any assets that are not re-titled in the name of the trust are considered subject to probate. As a result, if you haven’t specified in a will who should get those assets, a court may decide to distribute them to heirs whom you may not have chosen.
In addition to the will or trust, we ask our clients to fill out Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Decisions, Health Care Directives, and other documents that are free and part of life planning.
If you have questions about whether you need a will or trust, contact Michelle M. Funkenbusch. Working with Joan M. Swartz, for complex estate planning, and tax professionals conveniently located in our building, we can provide you with full-service estate planning. Fees range from $300.00 to $3000.00 depending on the complexity of your estate and whether you want a will or trust.