Let’s face it. Sooner or later, you are going to die. Do you have a will? Do you have a medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, or a declaration of guardian for yourself and your children? If not, you should. DO NOT WAIT until it is too late to do a will and these other documents. DO IT NOW!
Don’t Wait To Plan
When you take a vacation, do you plan where and when to go, what to do when you get there, and how to pay for it? Or, do you just leave without any planning at all?
When it comes to your retirement, do you have a plan about when you will retire, how much money you will need, and how to save or invest for it? Or, do you just hope the government or someone else will take care of you when you reach retirement age?
Do you know when you are going to die? Probably not. Usually, death comes unexpectedly. Have you made arrangements about who will get your estate? Probably not. According to a May 2016 Gallup poll, only about 44% of Americans say they have a will that describes how their estate will be handled after their death. For something as important as your family, do you want to leave to chance how they will be taken care of after you pass? I hope not.
You Decide How Your Estate Will Be Divided
Why do you even need a will? A will lets YOU, not the government or someone else, determine how your estate will be divided. You may want all of your estate to go to one person, such as your spouse, or to your children. You may want a certain item to go to a specific person. For example, you may want your brother to get your golf clubs or your daughter to get your jewelry. Or, you may want to give something to your church, a charitable organization, or your alma mater.
You may have designated a beneficiary on your life insurance policy, bank account, or retirement account and think that a will is not needed. These are non-probate assets and the insurance company, financial institution, or retirement administrator will pay according to the beneficiary designations you made. But those designations don’t apply when it comes to determining who gets your car, real estate, or personal property. This is where a will comes in.
A Will Provides Peace of Mind for You, Less Burden for Your Family
A will is more for the benefit of who you leave behind than it is for you. While having a will may give you peace of mind, knowing that you have provided for those who matter to you, it also takes a tremendous burden off your survivors. Imagine you died without a will and your spouse has no idea about how you want your estate to be distributed. Not only will your spouse have to grieve over your passing, but he or she may have no direction about whether you wanted to be buried or cremated, or who should get your estate.
If you have a properly drafted will, you can avoid these issues. If you want to learn more about how your estate could be divided, please contact me.
A Will Could Prevent Family Turmoil
Believe it or not, not all family members get along. Sometimes, a sibling will say, “Mom liked me better than you,” or, “I took care of Mom, but you didn’t. That is why I should get more of the estate.” Having a will prevents or minimizes problems like these. Remember, the estate is your property, and it is up to you how you divide it. Do not let the beneficiaries tell you how to do it or make you feel guilty about dividing the estate in a way that they think is unfair to them.
Your will should include a no-contest clause. A no-contest clause prevents beneficiaries from arguing over who gets what. If they complain about what they get in the will, then they get nothing. This may keep some harmony in the family after you are gone. If you want to disinherit someone – meaning, you want to be sure that a person gets no part of your estate or the least amount allowed by law – then you need to include that clause in your will. If you want someone to outlive you by a certain number of days in order to qualify as a beneficiary, then you need to include a clause to that effect.
A Will Provides Flexibility as Your Life Changes
A will gives you the flexibility to change how you want your estate divided as your life changes. You may want to change your will if you get married and have children and grandchildren. You may also include a provision in your will for the care of your pets after you die.
Divorce and Remarriage
Let’s say you do a will or a trust while you are married. Later you get divorced or your marriage is annulled or declared void. If this occurs, any provisions in your will or trust regarding your spouse and each relative of your former spouse will automatically be interpreted as if your former spouse and those relatives died before you. For example, if your spouse is named as a beneficiary and/or executor in your will, once the marriage ends, he or she is no longer a beneficiary and/or executor, unless you specifically include a provision in your will that your spouse will remain a beneficiary and/or executor even if you get divorced.
If you remarry, you should do a new will to add your new spouse. If your new spouse has his or her own children, you need to decide if those children will inherit anything from you.
Special Needs Trust / Governmental Benefits
You may have a child who requires a special needs trust and receives governmental benefits. Frequently, adult children are now taking care of their parents. Sometimes, the parents move in with their children or they may choose to reside where they can get long-term care. Many elderly people receive governmental benefits, such as Social Security. You may want to include in your will provisions for your special needs child and your parents. However, you need to be sure that whatever they receive from your estate does not jeopardize the government benefits they receive. For example, an inheritance from your estate may make them ineligible to receive those benefits. With a properly drafted will, you can include provisions so that they receive a series of payments rather than money all at once and thereby reduce the risk that they won’t lose receiving the governmental benefits.
I Am Here to Help You
I have prepared wills and other documents for my clients in the greater San Antonio area for many years. Let me help you with yours. Your family is counting on you. Please request a consultation using the button below or call me at (210) 558-4572. I look forward to hearing from you very soon.