It may not sound enticing, but creating one puts power in your hands
Presented by the MEMBERS Financial Services Program* at SLFCU
WILL FUTURE FEDERAL INCOME TAX RATES BE LOWER THAN THEY ARE TODAY?
Only about 44% of Americans have created a will, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. This finding may not surprise you—after all, no one wants to be reminded of their mortality or dwell on what might happen upon their death. Writing a last will and testament is seldom a priority for Millennials or Gen Xers, but it may surprise you to know that about 35% of Americans aged 65 and older lack wills, according to a 2016 statistic cited by The Balance, a personal finance website.
A will is an instrument of power. By creating one, you gain control over the distribution of your assets. If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property, with no regard to your priorities. A will is a legal document by which an individual or a couple (known as “testator”) identifies their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after death. It can typically be broken down into four parts:
- Executors: Most wills begin by naming an executor. This is the person responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in a will, such as assessing the value of the testator’s estate (all the money and property owned by them after death), paying inheritance taxes and other debts, and gathering and distributing their assets among beneficiaries. It is recommended that an alternate executor be named in case the first choice is unable to fulfill the obligation. Some families name multiple children as co-executors with the intention of thwarting sibling discord, but this can introduce a logistical headache, as all the executors must act unanimously.
- Guardians: A will allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children–the person(s) who will take care of them after your death. The designated guardian must be able to assume the responsibility. For many people, this is the most important part of a will. If you die without naming a guardian, the courts will decide for you.
- Gifts: This part of the will enables you to identify people or organizations to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as jewelry or a car. You can also specify conditional gifts, such as a sum of money that will go to a young son or daughter when she reaches a certain age.
- Estate: Your estate encompasses everything you own, including real property (e.g., land and buildings), financial investments, cash, and personal possessions. Once you have identified specific gifts you would like to distribute, you can apportion the rest of your estate in equal shares among your heirs, or you can split it into percentages. For example, you may decide to give 45% each to two children and the remaining 10% to your sibling.
A do-it-yourself will may be acceptable, but it may not be advisable. The law does not require a will to be drawn up by a professional, so you could create your own will, with or without using a template. If you make a mistake, however, you will not be around to correct it and each state sets criteria for what makes a will legal. When you draft a will, consider enlisting the help of a legal, tax, or financial professional who could offer you additional insight, especially if you have a large estate or a complex family situation.
Remember, a will puts power in your hands. You have worked hard to create a legacy for your loved ones. You deserve to decide how that legacy is sustained.
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
* Representatives are registered, securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, which is not an affiliate of the credit union. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. FR-2544172.1-0519-0621
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