Without a will, state laws will determine the distribution of your assets.
A single person with assets of less than $1 million dollars can establish a simple will that distributes assets as chosen, after debt obligations are satisfied.
Married couples can leave all assets to each other and establish contingency plans if both spouses die simultaneously. Due to the unlimited marital deduction, a surviving spouse who is a U.S. citizen, can inherit the entire estate without tax liability. If the surviving spouse is not a U.S. citizen, a special trust can be used. But, for 2012, if more than $5,120,000.00 is bequeathed from either spouse’s estate, the estate could be subjected to an estate tax liability. An “all-to-spouse” will can lead to unintended results if contingencies are not addressed. For example, the disposition of assets should a surviving spouse remarry.
There are additional considerations if you have children. Your will should clarify your wishes for custody of minors and also determine what and when a child’s potential inheritance will be.
A power of attorney is a lifetime financial management tool authorizing another person to act on your behalf.
A health care directive is a lifetime directive of health care and can also include funeral directives and organ donation.
All wills require a personal representative (executor). Often people name a family member as personal representative, but it is also possible to name a friend or a corporate representative.
It’s generally a good idea to regularly review your will with your Frundt and Johnson attorney. Some events that could trigger the need to revise your will include:
Moving to a new state
Death of a spouse or beneficiary
Marriage or divorce
Birth or adoption of children
Change in value of assets
Change in asset structure
Beneficiaries’ marriage, divorce, or birth of children
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