Where There's a Will, There's a Way
Do you have a will, a legal document that states how you want your assets to be distributed after your death? Between 50% to 60% of Americans die without a will, letting state law dictate who gets what of the property they leave behind. Although the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many people to create a will and make estate plans, most Americans still have this on their “to-do” list.
If you have a will, have you kept it up-to-date? Anytime you experience a major life change, like getting married, having a child, buying a house, or moving to a different state, you should review your estate planning documents and update them accordingly. Estate planning attorneys suggest revising these documents every three to five years, regardless of the changes in your life.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, there is also another good reason for many people to review and revise their wills: changing federal and state estate tax This is a tax on a person’s assets after their death. In 2022, federal estate tax is applied to assets over $12.06 million. Most states no longer impose their own estate taxes, but as of 2022, about a dozen states still do. For instance, residents of Massachusetts and Oregon must pay state estate tax on assets over $1 million.
Even if your estate is not likely to be subject to federal estate tax, a properly drawn will may save your family a great deal of money in state estate taxes.
Seek professional help if you are in a blended family, wish to establish a trust to direct the disposition of assets after your death, own property in more than one state, want to leave more to one child than to another, own all or part of a family business, have a disabled or handicapped dependent, anticipate family conflict over your will, or own expensive assets not easily valued.
For do-it-yourselfers, online resources include nolo.com
, U.S. Legal Wills
, and doyourownwill.com
. But choose carefully. Some offer basic fill-in-the-blank forms, while others are interactive, allowing you to prepare a customized will. The professionals at Cornerstone Credit Union can help with your estate-planning needs or steer you to reputable professionals in the community. Stop by today or call us at 815.235.5855 or 800.711.3277.