There are many people these day who don’t think they need a Will. Something that truly frightens me, personally, is talking to military members (even some with children) who don’t think they need a Will because they have so very few monetary possessions. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone with a family, a spouse, a bank account, anyone who has a pulse for that matter, needs a Will to make sure their possessions go to whom they want them to go. Even a homeless person who has something of sentimental value that they would like to leave to someone else, needs a Will to make sure that transfer happens. Without a Will the state will make the determination of what happens to your assets. Without a Will the state will determine who is best capable of taking care of your children. Probate is an unfortunate occurrence that happens when someone passes. In my opinion, I don’t think the state will ever make the right decision about either one of those situations. I want to make those decisions ahead of time so that if anything should ever happen to me I know that the things I care about will go where I want them to go. (If you don’t think you need a will you should read this article: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/basics/2009-07-09-debt-assets-will_N.htm)
There is no way to express how important it is to have the right documents in place to protect your assets and your family in the event something happens to you. I have heard so many stories of families breaking apart over the distribution of assets after someone passes. There are too many stories of how little was left of an estate after probate proceedings. There are even stories of children going in debt because of what was left to them by their parents passing.
There is only one thing that can make the whole process go smoothly: that is with the proper preparation of a Will (or trust). There are other documents that can be used to make the transfer of assets less of a strain (we’ll talk about those later). Without a Will that instructs how those assets are to be divided, or that directs who should be given custody of your children or pets, they will still be divided as the court sees fit (and they will charge you legal fees to do so).
Having an Estate Planner or Lawyer draft the documents to make sure your belongings go where they should, could cost upwards of $2000. However, you can draft your own Will, sign it in your own hand and have it witnessed. That will also suffice for the courts. The best option is to have all the documents prepared at the same time; by all the documents I’m talking about a Will, a Trust, a Pour Over Will, a Financial Power of Attorney, and a Health Care Power of Attorney. All of these documents working in conjunction are the most comprehensive way to make sure everything is taken care of in the event of your passing. Things change constantly, and updating these documents on a regular basis is also important. (To read a little more about Estate Planning and other financial Planning CNN Money has created Money 101 that you should definitely take a look at. The following are the best I have seen as they relate to this article: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index3.htm http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index.htm)
FES(Financial Education Services) provides an incredible package that will allow you to answer questions and complete the blanks for all the important information. It has sections that allow you to give detailed instructions describing how you want your assets divided. It will create all the other documents as well and will carry over the information so you aren’t filling out the same information multiple times. Once you’ve finished it will be reviewed by an FES lawyer who will assist in making any changes as needed (put it in legal terms). The great thing about the FES Wills and Trust products is that you can update them whenever, however, and where ever you want because you can access your information online. Also, if used in conjunction with the FES Black Card Membership, your Financial Lockbox will be included with your Will.
If you have any more questions about what we can do for you feel free to contact one of our agents on the Agent Locator page.
To Your Financial Future,