Baby boomers are flocking into retirement. Some of their most common concerns are running out of money during retirement and having to fit the bill for the rising costs of health care. Surprisingly enough, many boomers fail to plan for what happens after they are gone. Most boomers get overwhelmed when they ponder the ins and outs of estate planning. What most boomers don’t realize is that by drafting a simple will, most of their estate plans will be taken care of. By drafting a will, your estate should be taken care after your passing and your heirs will be saved from the headache of having to properly distribute your assets.
What Happens If Boomers Don’t Have a Will
Most boomers don’t draft a will because they don’t know what it really know what it means to not have one. To die without a will, the legal term refers to dying “intestate”. Dying intestate either means that you didn’t have a will drafted before you died, or your will doesn’t meet the requirements of the state law that you’re residing.
Avoid Probate at all costs…right?
When you die without a will, you are subject to probate. Probate has become the “four letter” word of estate planning by most estate planning attorneys. Depending on your situation, probate may not be that horrible. While probate is usually the standard, you may also pass $100,000 with a small estate affidavit with or without a will. Probate allows for clean titling of your assets to go directly to your next of kin. One potential downside of probate is that your matters are made public and anybody is allowed to make a claim against your property. If you ever check your local paper, you can see examples of estates filing for probate.
On the other side of the coin, one way of looking at probate is that you are leaving it up to the government to decide how you want your estate divided. If you are okay with this, then maybe probate is okay. Just because you are okay with the state handling your affairs after you are gone, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a will.
What a “Will” will do
- It allows you to give away your property that you own in your name the way that you want to.
- It allows you to nominate an executor to take care of all of your last affairs as far as paying bills, et cetera,
- It allows you to nominate a guardian for your minor children.
Obviously, if you don’t have a will, then these three things won’t be carried out. You are then subject to your state laws to determine what the outcome of your estate is.
Who Gets Your Property?
If you die without a will, than your property is distributed pursuant to your state laws, and will most typically pass to your closest heirs. But who are your closest heirs? That depends greatly on your family situation, and the intestacy law covers pretty much every possibility. If you die without a will, the statue provides that your estate (anything that is in your name only) passes ½ to your spouse and ½ to your children. Is that what your intent is? Maybe, or maybe not. These are things to consider. Further complications are step-children (they are not considered children under statue) and children from a prior relationship (they are considered yours). These are all issues that can be resolved and simplified from having a will.
Estate Tax Benefits
One last thing to consider is the estate planning benefits that a will can accomplish. Many time boomers say “I don’t have an Estate, why do I need an Estate Plan?”. This is very unfortunate. Seeking some information on the basics of a will and estate Planning can be a huge comfort for you and your family.