Who’s Gonna Get Your Stuff?

You may think you don’t have an estate so there’s no need to create a plan.  The truth of the matter is that whether you create an estate plan or not, your assets will be distributed.   What you need to be concerned about is who will inherit your property. Property is more than just real estate.  It also includes bank accounts, insurance, policies, retirement accounts, jewelry, cars, furniture, etc.  If you want control over who gets your property, then you need a Will or Living Trust.

The extent to which the courts will be involved and the difficulty your family experiences while trying to settle your affairs depends on whether or not you have an estate plan.   If you don’t have a Will or Trust, then your family may have to go to Probate Court to do things such as access your bank accounts, sell your home, settle your debts, and handle other matters. Each state has rules of Intestacy that apply in the event that you die without a will.  An estate plan also has value before you die.  If you become mentally or physically incapacitated without a plan, the courts may intervene to make decisions regarding your care and the handling of your finances.

You’re Probably Worth More Than You Think.

Have you ever taken the time to figure how much you’re actually worth?  Most people have not.   You’re likely to be surprised by how much you’re actually worth or how many assets you actually own.

Your assets include the following:

    • Liquid assets such as bank accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit
    • Fixed assets such as bonds
    • Stocks and mutual funds
    • Retirement plans such as 401ks, pension funds, IRAs, and profit sharing plans
    • Personal assets such as real property, cars, and jewelry
    • The value of your insurance plans
    • The value of your business, investment property or other real estate.
To calculate your net worth, add up the value of all of your assets and then subtract your outstanding debts such as mortgages, credit cards, etc. You can also or use this Net Worth Workbook to better understand your Net Worth.

What’s Next?

Now that you have inventoried your property and know your net worth, it’s time to think about how you want your assets distributed and ask yourself some difficult questions like:
  1. Who is going to handle your affairs if you become seriously ill, or mentally disabled?
  2. How are you going to make sure your children are cared for?
  3. Who do you trust to handle your affairs?
  4. Do you want a health care directive that instructs your family and doctors how to administer care as you face end of life?
All of these are tough questions and they touch on subjects we do not like to think about.  However, planning for the well-being of your family and the orderly settlement of your affairs is an act of love. Imagine the chaos that can result if you don’t plan for these things. Wouldn’t you rather have peace of mind knowing your affairs are in order?
The takeaway message is that if you own property (real estate, checking, savings, and other assets) and/or have minor children, you should take the time to assemble a plan to ensure sure your affairs are handled in an orderly fashion and in a manner that is respectful of your wishes.
The Jamii Law team is here to help you get a handle on all of these things and to put together a plan to Protect Your Family, Preserve and Transfer Wealth.  Telephone or Email Attorney Gina Smith today to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation.  gmsmith@jamiilaw.com or 312.868.0781.  We are happy to help.
Disclaimer: All content provided is brief general information and not intended as legal advice. Always consult an attorney before acting

Gina Smith