Wills and trusts are an essential part of estate planning, and they should be an essential part of planning your life. Many of us like to focus on planning our careers, where we live, and our family lives. Planning the end of your life by completing a will is one important part you don’t want to skip, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
What’s a Will?
Your last will and testament is basically a document that represents a set of legal instructions to communicates your wishes upon death. These instructions determine how your dependents will dispose of your property when you die. View this Legal Minute With Michaelson Law to learn about the difference between a will and a trust. They are both documents, but they do different things for your end-of-life plan. If you have close loved ones, creating a will is the right thing to do. Crafting your will and estate plan is uncomfortable, but it does not compare to the difficulty your loved ones will face upon your death and in the absence of your will.
The Latest Trends in Estate Planning
It’s interesting to note that the number of people making wills has gone down over the past few years. More recently, we’ve seen an uptick in estate planning since the start of COVID-19. This recent change in events is impacting the way Americans view mortality and end-of-life documents that are needed if sickness and/or death strike. Click this link to learn more about how Americans are responding to COVID-19 with estate planning.
A study by Caring.com found that 25% fewer people have a will at the beginning of 2020 than they did in 2017. Surprisingly, more and more older and middle-aged adults are avoiding the process altogether. It’s interesting that this is the case because the study also found that 30% of the people believe you should have a will by the age of 35. Many of us have experienced the fallout of a parent who had died with no will, yet the number of Americans making wills is still dropping. This is a trend we would like to change.
Why You Need a Will
Many Americans will say that they don’t need a will because they do not have enough assets. However, unless you are destitute, you probably own a lot more property and assets than you think. Property ownership includes more than a house. Things like individual and jointly owned bank accounts, stocks/bonds, retirement accounts, jewelry, automobiles, your digital footprint, and even pets, are all part of your estate. You do not have to be wealthy, or even close to it, to benefit from a will. But it’s not just you who benefits from a will. At the same time, your family and loved ones can focus on grieving your loss, instead of dealing with legal issues the court system because you failed to prepare.
Wills are subject to state law. When you die without a will, it is known as dying intestate, and the distribution of your assets becomes the responsibility of a probate court in your state. The probate court appoints an administrator who will act as your executor. They will be responsible for identifying legal claims against your estate, paying off outstanding debts, and locating your legal heirs. Locating your heirs will only happen when your property is worth more than your outstanding debts. It is up to the court to decide what is best for your estate, and your family is stuck with the will of the court.
Get Professional Help
Filling out a DIY online will is also risky business. Cheap forms found online are often deemed invalid in court. They usually do not comply with state legal requirements and are often not filled out correctly to ensure what happens to your estate is what you want to happen. Learn more about updating your estate plan during a pandemic here.
If you have an existing will, we are happy to review it for you. Your will should be reviewed periodically to ensure it reflects your wishes and current legal statutes. If you don’t have a will, we are here to help you create one. Take the necessary steps now so you will bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones. Finish planning your life by planning for the end of your life.