Why Every Family Needs A Will

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By Marijane Cauthorn

Frequently the phrase “if I die” comes up during estate planning conversations with clients. Yet it is never a matter of if, only when. According to some estimates, nearly half of Americans with children do not have a Will, Power of Attorney, or Health Care Directive. Additionally, more than 40 percent of Baby Boomers do not have their estate planning completed. An estate plan can prevent family disputes, ensure your assets are passed to the beneficiaries of your choice and identify guardians for minor dependents.

A Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive are a few of the documents to consider establishing for your family.

Some people believe that their spouse and dependents will automatically inherit their assets. That is not necessarily the case in Georgia. An estate without a will must go through the probate court. The court will make estate decisions for you, including who will care for your children. Probate court will cost your family money and can tie up an estate for months or even years. It is better to take the time to make your decisions now than to wait for the unexpected to occur.

Are you ready to set up a meeting with an attorney at Cauthorn Nohr & Owen about your estate planning? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Beneficiaries: Bring names, addresses and their relationship to you
  • Executor of the estate as well as an alternate executor: Bring names and addresses
  • Guardians for minor children: Bring names and addresses
  • Estate: Bring a list of both your accounts and real property. Also bring a list of personal items if you wish to leave specific items to individuals
  • Family business information: We’ll discuss the benefits of setting up the family business as a limited liability asset
  • Charities: Determine if you want to donate a portion of your assets to a charity
  • Identify and document digital assets: Accounts, user ids, and passwords need to be inventoried and made available to an executor
  • Questions: Make a list of questions you have for your attorney

Your Will should be reviewed and updated if you get a divorce; marry; adopt or have children; a beneficiary, guardian or executor dies; you move to another state; or your financial situation greatly changes. Once your estate planning is completed make sure you have copies made, stored in a safe place, and given to a trusted source.

Facing end-of-life decisions can be emotionally difficult, it is natural to procrastinate. Procrastinating is never a good idea. Let’s get started today.

Marijane Cauthorn is CNO's managing partner