Fewer than a third of Americans have a will. Experts say that could lead to confusion and money loss when someone dies without one. Here are some expert tips on who needs a will, and how to create one.
August is National Make a Will Month. And one of the most common misconceptions is that only the rich, or only those with kids, need to make a will. The expert we spoke with said anyone over the age of 18 should have a will or an estate plan of some kind.
"People of any means have property, they have loved ones who they leave behind who will need to be in charge of administering their affairs," said Mitch Mitchell, an estate attorney with Trust & Will. "They also have loved ones who will need to know what their wishes are in the event they're incapacitated. What do they want their care to look like? Especially during their end of life."
Mitchell says you're going to want to have a medical power of attorney and a HIPAA authorization in place so there are no questions over what kind of care you want -- and who you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot.
Also, if you don't have a will or family trust, the probate process can be extended and that can cost you time, conflict with other family members and of course, money.
If you have a living trust, there is no probate process at all.
So experts say everyone should have a will. But only those with property need a living trust. That way when you die, everything in the trust doesn't have to go through probate.
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