Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Before You Cash in Your Chips, Write a Will (Part 1)

By Marie Bradby

Preparing a will seems to be the hardest task for people to check off the list of important things to do. Many people don’t think they have enough assets, or they can’t face their mortality, or they think it’s too complicated.

Aretha Franklin, Prince, and other famous people have died without wills. Their estates will be tied up in the state courts for years and will cost a lot of money in taxes and fees, and it will be confusing to unravel who the deceased wanted to have their assets. Here’s the thing, without a will — your small estate will, too.

“Most people are surprised to learn that if someone dies without a will and they have children, the assets will go to their children and not to their spouse,” says Eileen Walsh, an elder law attorney and owner/partner of Elder Law of Louisville. “Kentucky determines the order of persons who will inherit from you if you do not sign a will,” Eileen says. “Kentucky statute lists the people who will inherit in the following order: children, parents of the deceased, siblings, and then the spouse. However, a spouse is entitled to a statutory share and can seek the right to half of it. ”

Having a will has nothing to do with the value of your assets, Eileen emphasizes. “It’s important to sign a will so you decide who will inherit from you,” she says. “Otherwise, the state will determine it for you.”

Extra tidbit: How longterm care insurance can help you keep some money in your pocket.

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