“Did you know that the majority of Americans do not have a will? This is one of those circumstances where you definitely don’t want to be part of the crowd!”
A last will and testament is critical to everyone, from movie stars to movie theater concessionaires. A will states your intent and sets out what you want to happen to your assets when you pass. If you have minor children, your will names their guardians.
Dough Roller’s recent article, “The Truth About Why You Need a Last Will and Testament,” explains that simply writing up a will isn’t your only worry. You also need other estate planning documents in place.
A will details your wishes for your assets and for the care of your children. There are titled assets that will pass outside of the will, like your checking account with a “payable-on-death” beneficiary specified. If your home is owned in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, it passes to the remaining owner(s) outside of the will. Similarly, your life insurance policy has its own beneficiaries and is not governed by your will. You should name beneficiaries on your bank accounts, CDs, and 401(k)s, so they will pass outside of the will.
Some people don’t create an estate plan because they think attorneys are too expensive. There are a few do-it-yourself solutions that you should be beware of. For example, what about a DIY power of attorney document appointing two individuals who are each able to act independently, if the other is unavailable to act? One online document didn’t support this, as one person was required to be specified as primary POA and the other as the contingent, if the primary withdraws. Another online service required that the power of attorney document specify “AND/OR.” In a DIY form, you need to know how to specify contingent beneficiaries. There’s also a big risk of editing an old estate planning document because laws change.
Pennsylvania made some significant changes to its requirements for Power of Attorney documents a few years ago. If you purchased a valid document from an online legal services website in 2010 and edited it last month, you’d be missing any changes because you must buy a new copy from the website. In fact, the edited document, based on the 2010 original, wouldn’t comply with Pennsylvania’s 2014 requirements.
Your estate documents can change continually, so it’s important to update them when there’s a significant change.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security.
Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
For more information and articles on estate planning, probate, and trust law, please visit our website and request our free monthly e-newsletter.
Reference: Dough Roller (July 29, 2017) “The Truth About Why You Need a Last Will and Testament”