Lessons in the Law June Report
Are You Joint on Your Accounts?
This is the time of year when many of us clean out the clutter and dress up the outsides of our homes.
Now is a perfect time to get a solid plan in place in the event the unexpected happens, like death or sudden illness. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions that we have long given up on and even forgotten. Proper estate planning is something that should not be treated like a resolution and you can’t afford not to stick with. If you have money, if you have a family, you need to have a plan. And anytime is the right time to begin your estate planning.
The key components to a well-planned estate include a will, a living will, and a durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare. If you get sick or die, these are the basic documents that you need to have in place. I call it having a Critical Family Protection Plan because these documents are vital to protecting yourself and your estate.
Most spouses think they are automatically protected against asset loss because they are married, but that’s not the case. If you aren’t joint on property or bank accounts and investments and a spouse gets sick, you will have to go through probate court and have a guardian appointed who will make the decisions as to which bills get paid and what monies are used. In the meantime, improperly titled accounts could delay your gaining access to your funds. It can be devastating, emotionally and personally. If you are incapacitated, precious time will be lost while your family struggles to get a guardian appointed because you didn’t have a plan in place. Nobody will have the power to make decisions on your behalf.