Most of us don’t want to think about dying. It’s not only the old that die. The news is full of stories about unexpected deaths – a pile up on the highway, climbing and skiing accidents, drownings and etc.
Anyone over the age of 18 years and of sound mind should have a valid and up-to-date will. If you die without making a will, everything you own will be distributed according to the law in your State – which means your wishes will be ignored.
Having a valid and up-to-date will should be a central part of your generational planning strategy. This applies irrespective of the size of your estate or how you wish it to be distributed.
While there is no limit on the time that a will remains valid, a review every 3-4 years is recommended.
It is important that reviews are also conducted whenever your circumstances change, if you decide to alter your beneficiaries or if you buy or sell an asset.
Some people think that making a will is something you do once and can then forget about. For most of us, nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that can be worse than not having a will, is having a will which is no longer relevant to your circumstances.
So what happens if I don’t have a will?
Anyone who passes away without a will is said to have died ‘intestate‘. In such cases the assets belonging to the deceased are distributed according to State law. It is possible that such laws will not be consistent with your wishes and consequently those who you wish to benefit from your estate might not do so.
The law is based on what is likely to be suitable distribution of your assets – and this might work for some people. However, it may be unsuitable to you and your loved ones in some circumstances. For example:
- If you are in a de facto relationship then, depending on the length of that relationship, your partner may not be provided for adequately.
- If you have been divorced and then remarried, your new spouse, or their own family, may benefit from assets you might want to pass on to children of your previous relationship.
- Your property might go to an estranged relative, or to wealthy relatives who do not need your assets.
- You are concerned about an intended beneficiary’s ability to preserve and manage their inheritance.
- In some States, if you have no close relatives your property will be given to the government.
- Muslims usually wants their wealth to be distributed according to their religion regulations, and hence -as a Muslim- dying without a will that describe how Islam religion controls the distribution of your wealth will result in ignorance of these regulations and follow the state laws.
It’s unfortunate how many people believe that estate planning is only for wealthy people. People at all economic levels benefit from an estate plan. Upon death, an estate plan legally protects and distributes property based on your wishes and the needs of your family and/or survivors with as little tax as possible.
A will is the most practical first step in estate planning; it makes clear how you want your property to be distributed after you die.
It may help to get legal advice when writing a will, particularly when it comes to understanding all the rules of the estate disposition process in your state. Some states, for instance, have community-property laws that entitle your surviving spouse to keep half of your wealth after you die no matter what percentage you leave him or her. Fees for the execution of a will vary according to its complexity.
Most of people might postpone their will preparation because of the high cost of attorney or the legal advice. At average it will cost between 400$ to 800$, and it will cost that much every time you want to update it …!
At legalshield we provide you, a will preparation, and annual reviews and updates for you, your spouse, and covered family members and other more valuable services for only 20$ per month …!
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