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Importance of creating your will

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POSTED March 17, 2014 8:33 p.m.

A will is one of the most important documents you’ll ever create in your lifetime. Your will can clearly state who will be guardian of your minor children, who will inherit your assets, when they will inherit your assets, and any conditions that must be met for them to receive your assets. Yet, according to a legal services website RocketLawyer.com, almost 50% of Americans do not have a will.

If you die without a valid will, the court does not have your instructions to follow, and it has no way of knowing how you may have wanted to distribute your assets. The state where you lived steps in and makes the decisions for you, according to the distribution schedule set forth in its intestacy statutes. The state’s decisions may or may not conform to your wishes, or do what is best for the people closest to you. And your loved ones will likely have to hire an attorney and incur delays to determine who will receive your assets.

Common misconceptions.

My assets are so small that a will is not necessary.

You are generally worth more than you think. Even if some possessions do not hold great monetary value, they could hold an enormous amount of sentimental value—and that’s something you can’t put a price on. Failing to indicate who receives these treasures in your will can cause friction among family members that lasts for decades.

When I die, my spouse will get all of my assets.

Maybe, and maybe not. Any assets held jointly with right of survivorship automatically pass to the joint owner. And assets with a beneficiary designation, such as IRAs, life insurance, and annuities, pass as stated on the beneficiary form. What happens when your surviving spouse dies? What happens if your beneficiary form is outdated? Will your children receive their share at too early an age? Does your spouse have the financial skill to manage the family wealth? 

I can create a will on my own and save the legal costs.

“Do-it-yourself” wills often do not contain all of the necessary components as required by state law. Anyone who might benefit from an invalidation of your will can contest it, and if the courts decide in his or her favor, your estate may have to pay for all legal costs. The few dollars you save now can cost your loved ones thousands of dollars later. 

How to create a will.

Drafting a will is difficult and is not an endeavor you want to tackle single-handedly. It’s important that you call on the services of an estate-planning lawyer. A lawyer might help you:

• Determine what type of will you need

• Make the right decisions as to how your assets should pass

• Change the terms of an existing will, if appropriate

• Save on estate taxes

• Take advantage of estate planning opportunities people often overlook

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Creating a will forces each of us to come face-to-face with our own mortality—and dealing with death is difficult. But it will be much more difficult for your loved ones if you don’t have a will. To ensure that your will is legally viable, seek the services of a qualified attorney to draft and refine it. 

 

Frederick will also be holding a financial education workshop at Isadore’s in Manteca on Thursday, April 10, at 5:30 p.m. The main topic discussed will be on how to accumulate and distribute wealth in a tax efficient manner. If you would like to attend please RSVP to Fred at (559) 447-3604 as seating is limited. There is no cost to attend and is for educational purposes only.


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