A Last Will and Testament and a Trust are legal instruments that contain a set of instructions that communicate your wishes on such matters regarding who you want to settle your estate, protection of people who are dependent on you, such as a spouse or children, and how to distribute your property when you die. If you have people who you care about or property, then creating a Will or Trust for your peace of mind and their protection is the right thing to do. Though crafting your Will or Trust can make you face some uncomfortable topics, like mortality, it does not compare to the difficulty your loved ones may face trying to handle the logistics problems in the absence of A Will or Trust.
Many Americans Do Not Have Wills
Curiously, while many people have experienced the death of their parent and the fallout that occurs if the parent was no estate plan, the number of Americans making wills is dropping. Recently, a study by Caring.com identifies that in 2020, 25 percent fewer people have a will than in 2017. Surprisingly, older and middle-aged adults make up a substantial part of this group even though 30 percent of the people in the study believe you should have a will by the age of 35.
Do You Have Enough Assets for A Will?
Many Americans feel they do not have enough assets to deem a Will necessary, but unless you are destitute, you probably own a lot more than you think. Property ownership includes things like an individual as well as jointly owned bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, real estate, life insurance, annuities, jewelry, vehicles, your online digital accounts, and even pets, are all part of your estate. You do not have to be wealthy, or even close to it, to benefit from having a Will or Trust. Your Will or Trust also protects your family and loved ones at a time when their focus should be on grieving your loss, not dealing with problems because you did not have an estate plan.
What Happens if You Don't Have a Will or Trust?
Wills and Trusts are subject to state law. When you die without a Will, it is known as dying intestate. In that case, who inherits your estate will be determined by state law and your estate will probably have to be settled in probate court. The probate court appoints a personal representative who will act as your executor, identifying legal claims against your estate, paying off outstanding debts, locating your legal heirs, and then distributing the estate to those who are entitled to inherit it under state law.
I an an estate planning and elder law attorney in Troy, Michigan and I help my clients create estate plans. If you have an existing Will or Trust, I would be happy to review it to make sure it still reflects your wishes. If you do not have a Will or Trust, I would be happy to help you create one that makes sense for your situation. Taking these steps now will bring you peace of mind, save your estate money, and protect your family and loved ones. Feel free to contact me by calling my office or using the "Contact Us" form on the right.