The greatest estate planning error is that individuals believe it is just about the money. When it comes to their personal possessions, they will say, ‘It is only stuff.’
As a matter of fact, this type of “stuff” — the legal word is “non-titled property” — is often the greatest source of unhappiness amongst families. Specific items may have financial worth, and other ones are appreciated for their sentimental value. However, that copy of “Winnie the Pooh” or 25 cent Christmas ornament may come at an expensive emotional price. Without investing thought and time into how to distribute possessions, you can unknowingly leave a legacy of resentment and rancor.
A Will is not enough
Within a Rocket Lawyer survey, a legal services site, 50% of respondents that had children did not have a will. Additionally, a shocking 41% of baby boomers did not have one.
Passing away without having a will is going to present intestacy laws, meaning the state decides how an individual’s estate is distributed, as well as how his/her assets are allocated. If you do not have a will, in other words, the state does it for you. Within many states, the estate will be divided amongst the deceased spouse and kids. However, with the growing amount of blended families, things could become complicated. Therefore, if you have a desire for your woodworking tools or your china to go to a certain child, it is best practice to have that information in writing.
Most states allow you to attach a codicil to the will that indicates that you have made a different list that distributes your possessions. This list should be kept separate from the will. It’s possible to have a change of mind, and you do not want to have to update the will each time. However, it is an excellent idea to check with your attorney when you want to make changes to your list.
For more information on how to avoid an estate battle after you die, contact Michael C. Craven at (312) 621-5234.