Estate planning issues can affect families of all shapes and sizes. When you pass away without a will, this can leave behind a tangled mess for your loved ones. This is known as dying intestate.

State laws then determine who receives all of your assets and the vast majority of these possessions will pass through the probate process. If you have property in numerous states, the process will become even more complicated. You can simplify this process and make things easier for your loved ones by having an updated will. Most of your possessions will pass through a will, but not all of them.

For example, if you have life insurance or an IRA, separate beneficiary designation forms are used to determine who will receive the assets inside these accounts or policies when you pass away.

Reviewing your beneficiary designations on a regular basis is important, especially if you have had the birth of a child or a grandchild, a divorce or death of someone in the interim who was previously listed as your beneficiary. When you are alive, it is easily and quickly done to update your beneficiary designations, but this becomes irrevocable after you pass away. In addition to having an updated will and beneficiary designations, you should also have two powers of attorney.

The purpose of your first power of attorney is to allow for the making of health decisions and the other is to allow for financial decisions if you are not currently in a state of mind to be able to do so. The person that you assign the power of attorney to, will make decisions when you do not have the capacity to make them on your own. Having a power of attorney for financial issues can give your spouse access to things that you own separately, such as a 401(k) or an IRA.

It is not a wise idea to assume that simply because they are married to you that they will automatically be able to access all of the materials needed if something were to happen to you or if you were to pass away suddenly- get help from a lawyer.

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