According to Gallup News, only 44% of those who live in the United States have wills. Though you might think you have plenty of time to plan your future, you never know what might happen.
At Central Financial Group, we want to make sure that you cover all your bases and that you protect your legacy. Intelligent financial planning when creating your estate is key to ensuring that your loved ones carry out your last wishes.
What Happens When You Die Without a Will?
When you die without a will, your estate must go through a process called intestate. Your loved ones will need to go to probate court and divide your property through state laws.
Most laws allow your spouse to obtain all your assets and do not require that your spouse share those assets with anyone else in your family. If you have certain items that you want specific people to have, there's no guarantee they will get those items. You also risk heirs who passed away not getting anything due to their families because you didn't leave behind a will.
Writing Your Will
Those who live in the Algona area can contact Central Financial Group to try and help ensure they will cover all the property they own and meet all state laws. Each state has different rules on what makes a will valid. You have the option of writing your will by hand and signing and dating the bottom.
Most states will accept typed wills but require that two other people witness it. These witnesses should be people not listed in the will who can verify that you were of sound mind and body when you wrote it. You can also have your will notarized.
What to Include in Your Will?
Your will serves as your last wishes and tells others what you want them to do with your property. It should include a complete list of your assets, including physical property such as your home and any vehicles you own.
You should also list any accounts or money that comes to you, such as money you receive from a trust and any bank or retirement accounts you have. You do not need to include your life insurance policy if you have already named a beneficiary. The beneficiary can get those funds without going through probate. Don't forget to explain what you want to happen to any children or pets you have.
The Probate Process
Your family needs to go through probate to divide your property when you pass away. They can complete this process with or without a will, but a will ensures that they follow your wishes. Your will should name an executor who is the person you trust to follow your wishes.
This person usually needs to sign a bond that shows the court they will follow the legal process. The probate process allows your loved ones to pay off any debts you have and give your property away as well as transfer ownership.
How to Avoid Probate
It can take six months or longer for your loved one to complete the process, making it hard for them to pay your mortgage and any bills you left behind.
You can set up a living trust and move your property into the trust. The trustee who oversees it has the legal right to disperse your parcel to the trustee you name. You may want to own joint property too.
You share ownership rights with at least one person with the joint property. A good example is a deed to your house. If your deed includes both your name and the name of your spouse, your spouse can usually go to court and file a document to take your name off the deed.
It would help if you also considered switching some or all your accounts to payable upon death accounts. When you die, the beneficiary you name instantly becomes the new owner. This makes it easy for your child or spouse to get the money in your bank account or retirement fund.
Power of Attorney Basics
It's not just death that you need to worry about regarding estate planning. You should also consider what you want to happen if you can no longer care for yourself. This requires a legal document called power of attorney. It allows you to name someone who will have control over your assets.
For example, you may suffer a stroke and need to spend time recovering in an Algona hospital. The document allows a specific loved one to run your business and make decisions on your behalf.
Power of attorney paperwork allows you to list the conditions you want to hand over control to someone else. You may decide to give your child control if you are hospitalized for any reason or if you need to enter a nursing home.
Many people file these documents to allow their loved ones to sell their property to get the money they need. If you're in the hospital, your family may need to sell one of your cars or access your bank account to pay your bills. Power of attorney paperwork will keep them fighting over who should have control.
We work closely with your legal professionals to help create the necessary documents for estate planning purposes. However, it is important to note we do not offer tax or legal advice—you are encouraged to seek the advice of a professional in those fields about your particular circumstances
Protect Your Legacy
Protect your legacy and keep your loved ones from fighting with proper estate planning. Why risk losing the money your spouse put back for your retirement years because they pass away and don't explain how to access and use those funds?
Turn to Central Financial Group to make sure you plan your estate the right way and that you leave behind a will that your loved ones can follow.