August 24, 2022
News You Can Use
In case you missed the announcement, August is National Make-a-Will Month, and experts have some tips on saving you and your heirs time and money. According to Caring.com, only one-third of Americans have a will or living trust. Renee Conrad, an estate planning and probate attorney in Palo Alto, said a will helps your heirs avoid expensive litigation. "A court is not the best setting for deciding who should handle your assets," Conrad asserted. "The court doesn't know your family and friends. And it's better not to leave that up to the judge, but for you to actually advocate for yourself by saying who you want to manage your assets in the will." Conrad noted the probate process can be expensive and can take up to a year, during which time the assets are frozen. She cautioned people to spell out your assets and name a beneficiary and a backup, especially for retirement accounts, in case you outlive the first beneficiary. She added a trust allows you to name a trustee to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated, and it avoids probate. Sam Young, senior director of legacy and planned giving for Compassion & Choices, said people need to have the conversation about mortality, even if it's uncomfortable, even if you do not have a lot of assets. "People don't think they need a will because they only think it's for the wealthy," Young explained. "It's absolutely not true. There are a lot of situations where you may want to leave specific assets to specific people." The website FreeWill.com will help you list your assets and final wishes, with a survey which takes about 20 minutes to complete. The document can then be printed, signed and notarized.