When it comes to finalizing your plans for what happens to your assets after you die, there is one simple mistake many people make - which could put your plans in jeopardy, according to a Centerville C.P.A. A will is the key first step, but only about half of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have one, according to Mark Bradstreet, C.P.A. with Bradstreet and Co.
For those that do have their wishes planned out, the biggest mistake they make is not communicating those wishes to family members. “To not let anyone know where your will and documents are - if you don’t do that, then for all intents and purposes, you never had a will,” said Bradstreet. “If you die without one, the state uses their own rules to effectively come up with a will for you.”
Having a will is clearing the first hurdle, but what comes next is what really helps your heirs after you're gone, according to News Center 7's Rachel Murray. A will lays out who gets what when you're gone - your home, cash, vehicle, and heirlooms - and not having one can be a disaster. "There was a lot of legal difficulties associated with the estate - one lost her home and you can't access bank accounts, things like that," said Don Cook from Mechanicsburg who has many children and grandchildren.
To avoid any confusion after you're gone, Bradstreet recommends writing a letter to hand-out to trusted family members that include, "where your will is at, who has got it, who is your attorney, safe deposit keys - a lot of people will go ahead and list out their different assets, and their different account numbers."
Sharing your wishes with family can be tough. "Most people, including my wife, doesn't like to talk about it and I don't like to talk about it either mortality, but I want to make sure that my kids are taken care of," said John Noyen of West Chester.
There are many online forms to create a will yourself, but Bradstreet recommends consulting with an attorney who will help you make sure your wishes are carried out when the time comes.