It’s a question we’ve all asked: Do I really need a Will?
As a financial planner I hear this so frequently it makes me cringe. Here’s a summary of why YES you need a Will!
Yes, Everyone Needs A Will
First, I am not an attorney. I recommend everyone work with a licensed attorney when it comes to drafting your will and other estate documents. It is instrumental! But it doesn’t end there. An attorney will help you with the legal documents needed to fulfill your final wishes. However, it’s important to remember not all assets are the same.
What does this mean? For example, but not limited to, accounts like:
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance
- Some joint assets like a house or checking account
These may not go through your will but directly to the person(s) listed as your joint and/or beneficiary. This can cause all kinds of problems!
Confirm Where And To Whom Your Assets Go
When working together, it is important for us to walk through how every single account/asset is titled. We list out who will get what with how your documents are currently titled and with what your will says, then adjust from there to ensure in the end it is exactly how you wished it to be dispersed.
What Happens If I Don’t Have A Will?
Let’s talk about what happens when you don’t have a Will.
When you pass, the court will appoint someone to be your executor, or the person in charge of wrapping up your last affairs. This person will have to file all your assets publicly with Probate Court and have multiple trips back to this court as things get finalized. On average this take 12 to 24 months and the average cost of probate court in NYS¹ $3,000-$10,000. Don’t forget it is public!
And if you are married and your estate goes to probate, everything does NOT necessarily go to your spouse 100%. Check your states laws. In New York, for residents without a will who have descendants, the surviving spouse gets the first $50,000 and the balance is divided one-half to the spouse and one-half to the decedent’s descendants.²
Planning Is Essential
The moral of the story is get ahead of this and plan. See an attorney and a financial advisor and walk through the simple process of ensuring your wants will be carried out. Don’t wait! We never know how much time we have. You can never be too young to have a plan!
Contact the friendly, professional, and experienced Estate Planners at Haven Financial Planning to get started.
Haven Financial Planning and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.