Asset Protection: When a Will Won’t Work

One of the most prevalent misconceptions when it comes to estate planning is that if you have a will, it will take care of everything that needs to happen after you die in terms of your assets.  But before you leave everything to just a will, consider these circumstances where a will simply doesn’t work:

Avoiding Court.  To take effect, a will must go through the probate process (called a conservatorship during your lifetime), which can be lengthy and deny your heirs (or family while you are living, but incapacitated) a quick resolution to the distribution of your estate (or the ability to pay your bills while you are living).  This is particularly true if you own property in another state.

Protecting privacy.  Once a will is open to probate, it is open to everyone — meaning that anyone can get access to it and learn everything you owned and where it is going.  Wills can also contain personal information that is attractive to identity thieves.

Protecting you in case of incapacity.  Since a will only goes into effect upon death, it provides zero protection for you if you should become incapacitated and no longer able to handle your own financial affairs or make decisions about your health care.  If that were the case, your family would have to go through the stress and expense of petitioning the court to appoint a guardian or conservator to handle your affairs. This is costly and can even drain your entire estate. This can be avoided by having advance medical directives and a financial power of attorney drawn as part of your estate plan.

Protect your assets.  Passing assets to heirs via a will does not provide any protection for those assets.  Once they are distributed, they may become vulnerable to a divorce action, creditors or bad financial decisions by your beneficiaries.   Placing your assets in a trust gives you more control over how and when they are distributed, and protects them from creditors and judgments.

As a Personal Family Lawyer®, I can further advise you on all your options and make things as easy as possible for your family during a Family Wealth Planning Session.  If you would like to have a talk about estate planning for your family, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.

To your family’s health, wealth and happiness!

David Feakes

P.S.  Want to get started on the most important planning you’ll ever do for your family?  Give our office a call at (978) 263-6900 to get started.  You’ll be so glad you did.

David Feakes is the owner of The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC – a law firm for families in the Acton, Massachusetts area.  David helps parents protect the people they love the most.  If you would like to receive David’s exclusive, free report, “Six Major Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing An Estate Planning Attorney,”  you can get it right here.

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The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC

At The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, we answer your questions at your convenience; we stay in frequent communication; and we meet to discuss changes in life circumstances and in the law to ensure that your assets are protected.

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