What Would Happen If You Died Tonight?
It’s never easy to think about your own death.
But if you’re smart and you want to create even more wealth for you and your loved ones, you’ll put aside those uncomfortable feelings and imagine what life would be like for your family financially if you suddenly died tonight, killed in a car accident, let’s suppose, on your way home from the office.
You’re dead…now what? Who would own your car? What name is on the title? In whose name is the house? What would happen to your children? Whose names are on your bank accounts? Could your spouse get to the money in them? Would your spouse have any way to support the family? What about your burial…will that be problematic and emotionally difficult for your family because you didn’t make any decisions about your final wishes? Would your family know how you want your assets distributed?
These are tough questions that are worth asking now, while you can. That’s how the rich get rich and stay that way — they contemplate how their life, and death, will affect others. They think about the future and plan ways to protect valuable assets. They differ from the average consumer who, as Gloria Steinem put it, “plans for Saturday night, [while] rich people plan for four generations!”
Even though everyone knows they need to address these important financial planning issues, most people put it off. Statistics show that only two in every seven families have a will made out in writing, and of those, only 20 percent are wills that have been updated in the last five years. And what if both you and your spouse die unexpectedly and leave minor children behind? If you have not made provisions to care for them, any money available in your estate could be drastically reduced by court costs as legal proceedings ensue about who will be guardian for your children. Many people assume that family members will have automatic rights to their children if they should die, but this simply isn’t so. The state in which you live will apply its child protection laws to your case, forcing all family members involved to be screened by the state in order to determine who will actually end up being guardians over the children. And what about a trust? A simple Will can protect minor children but doesn’t go far in protecting your family from probate and from the decisions of the court as a trust can often do.
By taking the time to organize your finances and plan how you want your estate handled at your death, you can avoid the cost and hassle of such things as probate, appraisal fees, forced sales, and exceptionally high federal and state inheritance tax.
How to Get Started…
One of the best ways to start organizing your finances is to “kill” yourself on paper. Work through each financial issue from your burial, to life insurance payouts, to the way your assets are titled, and see what kind of problems your family might encounter for which you have not prepared. One of the best ways to deal with any problems you uncover is to utilize estate organizing tools. You should look for an organizational system that is comprehensive in nature, and includes sections that will prompt you to take care of every area of your financial life, including how you spend, pay down debt, pay taxes, run your business, and manage your estate. It should help you easily order and store in one place, all essential estate planning and distribution information including copies of wills, trusts, and other important documents. A comprehensive system that has all vital information organized into one place allows an estate planning attorney to quickly and efficiently review your information, thus saving valuable attorney’s fees.
What happens when organizing tools are not utilized? One of my clients, I’ll call Frederick, declined to take my advice in organizing all his paperwork into a comprehensive system. When he passed away, his daughter, inexperienced in settling an estate, spent countless hours listing assets, getting appraisals, and updating financial information. It cost her thousands of dollars more than it needed to and hours of wasted time.
To learn more about proper estate organization and planning that go into the type of comprehensive detail you really need to protect your family when you die, visit www.moneymastery.com or give me a call: (888) 292-1099. I welcome your comments or questions.
Featured Image Credit: TaxBrackets.org