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Don't Make the Mistake of Not Having a Will

April 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 160

A recent study found that between 60 and 70 percent of American's die without a valid will, or living trust. This is simply shocking, given the advantages of having a trust in place, and the ease of drafting one. If you are in this category, it's time to ask yourself one question: What are you waiting for? Put simply, the benefits of a will are clear, especially if you have assets to protect and distribute, dependents to care for, and specific directives you want fulfilled. Leaving all these things to chance is unwise, and may end up costing those you love valuable time and resources to resolve. Here are the top three reasons to draft a will.

1. You have assets to distribute.

After you pass on with no last will and trust, your current property will become controlled by whichever legal guidelines regulate the state where you are living. As a result, your remaining family will not be able to govern the way your possessions are split, or when they are split. Not only are almost all state regulations pertaining to a passed individual's possessions time consuming to navigate, but it can be expensive to hire an estate attorney to help administer the property. Additionally, any delays in the distribution process will cause your surviving family members to have to wait months or even years for resolution. But having a valid will available can make the process of distributing of your assets simple and quick.

2. You have dependents.

Whether you have children, elderly parents, or other friends and family who you are responsible for supporting, it's important to provide for them after you are gone. Leaving behind a living trust helps ensure that the money you've set aside is distributed in the way in which you've directed, and in a timely manner. Most people know the importance of obtaining life insurance to provide for their loved ones upon death, and yet many of these same people ignore the second step in this process: making sure the insurance policy you've established gets paid to the proper survivors. If you have dependents, the two most important aspects of your will must address: (1) who will care for your dependent(s) in the event you die, and (2) how those dependents will be provided for. If you last wrote your living trust before you had children or acquired additional dependents, it's vital to update this document as circumstances change. Failing to directly address how your dependents will be provided for may result in them becoming wards of the state, or even being cared for by someone who is less than ideal.

3. You want the probate process to be easy and quick.

Despite the fact that just about every state's probate laws and regulations vary, one important thing is definite: when you pass away without leaving a legitimate and valid will and trust, your estate enters the probate process. Having to deal with your personal property sitting in probate is not ideal for several reasons: (1) your wishes and best intentions for how your assets are distributed may not be fulfilled, and (2) the longer your estate is in probate, the more expensive the process becomes (that's money that will be spent on attorneys and court fees instead of going to your survivors), in addition to the amount the IRS is going to take off the top. However, when you have a valid trust in place, the probate process is quick and efficient, and in 99% of cases avoided altogether, allowing your surviving family members access to the resources you've left them as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, many people find themselves in a protracted probate process when a loved one dies. However, in this day and age, this really should be the exception and not the rule. Ultimately, no one should have to worry about how their family will be cared for after their death. The best way to do that is to establish a plan now, before it's too late. If you're waiting because you think creating a will is complicated, you should know that you can find free templates online, as well as living trust software for a low fee (including templates for a living will and health directives). Most people with average estate issues can have a will generated and printed within about an hour (the final step is to discuss what's in the will with your family members, and place it in a location that is easy to access). And if you think your situation may be more complex, seek out the services of a good estate attorney or accountant. They'll be glad to assist you, and you'll get peace of mind knowing that you've set up a plan for your family.

For more information about obtaining insurance, financial planning and investing, and personal finance, visit our website.

Source: EzineArticles
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