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DeAnna Reinhardt's Blog

By Deanna Reinhardt | Agent in Centennial, CO

Why You Need a Will

Estate planning is not just for the rich or elderly. If you have a house and a family, you should absolutely have a will.
 
Unfortunately, approximately 70% of adult Americans have no current will. It might be because some people don’t think they have enough assets or that the costs of having a will drafted are too high. The truth is that you can have a will drafted by an attorney for typically $250 to $1,000. However, many legal clinics can draw up a simple will for as little as $75.
 
If you have a family and a home, having a will is imperative. Assets aside, in the event that you and your spouse both die without a will, a probate court judge will be responsible for assigning a guardian for your children. While it most likely could be a family member, will it be the family member you want to raise your children? Also, if you don’t name a guardian, it can potentially cause significant conflict among family members who may want custody. It’s crucial to name a guardian you trust to raise your children with values you would raise them with. You should also name an alternate guardian in your will as well.
 
If you die and do not have a will, the state has the ability to decide what happens to your assets. Every state has laws that direct what happens to property when someone dies without a valid will and the property was not left in some other way (such as in a living trust). Generally, only spouses, registered domestic partners (in states where that's an option), and blood relatives inherit any assets under intestate succession laws. Unmarried partners, friends, and charities get nothing. If the deceased person was married, commonly the surviving spouse gets the largest share. If there are no children, the surviving spouse often receives all the property. More distant relatives inherit assets only if there are no surviving immediate family members. In the rare event that no relatives at all can be found, the state takes the assets.
 
If you and your spouse have assets in excess of $1.5 million, estate planning is essential to lessen the impact of estate taxes, which in some states can be as high as 55%.
 
Once you decide to begin your estate planning, the first thing to do is to determine a guardian for your minor children and discuss that with the potential guardian. Then, tally up your assets. These include your house, investment portfolio, the value of your retirement plan, and your insurance plan payout.
 
Once you’ve determined what your assets are, you can decide how to divide them. You’ll also want to name an executor of your estate. Make sure that the beneficiaries listed in your will match the beneficiaries on your insurance policy and 401(K).
 
You will need to update your will if your family’s circumstances change (i.e. a birth, death, divorce, marriage, etc.).
 
Start your estate planning now. It may seem like a hassle, especially if you are young and healthy or have few assets, but it’s nothing compared to what your children and other beneficiaries may endure if you die without one.

Feb 7, 2012:  http://www.cherrycreekhomesearch.com/blog/877393/799911/Why-You-Need-a-Will

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