Preparing For The Inevitable
by Nita Jackson
Estate Planning for the Newly Remarried
Inheritance in a Second Marriage
Should You DIY Your Own Estate Plan?
The old quote about the only thing sure in this life is death and taxes still stands true.
It's not often discussed but part of being organized is being able to assure your family's inheritance at the time of your death. Without a will or living trust your family may lose precious assets that you worked your whole life to attain. My mother died intestate - which means without having a will. Having gone through probate as a result of my own mother's sudden death at age 52, I know that it is very costly as well as time-consuming. Probate is where the state decides who is the executor of the deceased belongings. Lawyers rather than charge an hourly fee, very often take a percentage of the total assets.
I implore you, if you do not have a will or living trust and begin it today! No one is guaranteed longevity and few will know the time when they will meet their Maker.
Not only does death preparation save thousands of dollars in lawyers and state court fees but takes the burden off your grieving family during a terrible time of stress. It was so difficult after my mom's death to be in figuring out casket prices, headstones and hospital bills. It was almost more than I could bear. Thank God I had a loving aunt and uncle who stepped in and helped me and my brother make some of the toughest decisions of our lives. I was a young and had no idea how to even begin making funeral home arrangements as well as deciding what would take place in a church service .
In many states, a simple handwritten will, signed and notarized will hold up in court. You may want to check your state's laws on wills and probate. Try a web search like "yourstate.gov". It is very easy to draw up your own will with the appropriate tools, like willmaker software and living trust handbooks.
Another benefit of planning ahead is saving your family from petty squabbles over properties. I've talked to many a person who never dreamed their loving family would express such greed and self-interest at a time where family solidarity is much needed. Unfortunately no one is immune from the selfish and self righteous ideas of others at this time. But the sad fact is, is that it happens every day in America.
Make sure you tell a trusted friend or family member where your will or living trust records are kept so they don't have to guess where they might be kept in the event of your death.
I encourage you also to have life insurance at all times. Please don't let policies slip and become overdue or unpaid. Did you know the average funeral cost is $8,000 or more ? This friends is not petty cash. Of course this does not include the cost of any medical bills that may proceed a funeral. If you must, carry the bare minimum it would take for burial alone. Term life insurance is very affordable. Make sure the company you choose is rated at least an "A " Standard and Poor. This insures that the company is financially solvent and can pay your claims at any time. When researching any Life Insurance Co. always ask them for their current Standard and Poor letter rating. While the above information is practical it is also critical in the day and age we live that we forgive, make amends, love all you can and get all accounts settled with God! This may be the best insurance of all.
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