How many times have you asked yourself, “Do I really need a will?” Or how many times have you said to yourself, “I know I need to get a will, but I’ll do it another time.” For most people, all they need are basic estate planning documents: A will, a financial power of attorney and an advanced directive for health care (more commonly known as a living will). And those basic estate planning documents should not be expensive.
Generally, if you die without a will and have one child and are married, your surviving spouse only receives 1/2 of the assets in your name when you die. Your child gets the other 1/2. Generally, If you die without a will and have two (or more) children and are married, your surviving spouse only receives 1/3 of the assets in your name when you die. Your two children (or more) get the other 2/3. If you and your spouse die without a will you will not have a say in who will be the guardian of your children (the person who cares for your minor child’s well-being) or conservator of your children (the person who will handle the child’s finances). If you die without a will it could result in significant estate tax liability that could cost your surviving spouse or children a significant portion of their inheritance. If you die without a will you will not be able to donate a portion of your assets to a church, synagogue or charity of your choice.
If you die without a will, the assets that are left to your minor children cannot just be transferred or used by your surviving spouse; your surviving spouse must seek a conservatorship over the children’s assets and is required to report to the court on an annual basis (the money cannot be used for the mortgage, car payments, utilities, etc.). If you die without a financial power of attorney (giving someone the right to handle your financial affairs when you cannot) and advanced directive for health care (giving someone the right to make decisions about your heath when you cannot), someone may have to get a guardianship and conservatorship to care for you – yes this applies to everyone.
If you are reading this article then it’s not too late to set up your estate plan. As I said before, estate planning (in most instances) should not be expensive. Once you execute your estate planning documents, you can check it off your list of things to do before you die.
If you would like to discuss preparing your estate plan (at no cost), please contact me at
(912) 484-1996 or firstname.lastname@example.org