#OneTransaction, A Will!
OneTransaction to Close the Racial Wealth Gap, A Will
According to Forbes, only 28% of minorities have a will. For some reason, Black folks believe if we get a will…we will immediately die! Some of our legendary artist – Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Chadwick Boseman, Prince – died without a will.
What’s a Will?
A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of your minor children. If you die without a will, your wishes may not be carried out. Further, your heirs may be forced to spend time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs.
Why Should I Have a Will?
Some people think that only the very wealthy need wills. Not true!
Here are 5 reasons to have a will.
- You can decide who gets what and how much.
- You can keep your assets out of the hands of people you don’t want to have them (like an estranged relative or relatives who come out of the woodworks!).
- You can identify who should care for your children. Without a will, the courts will decide.
- Your heirs will have a faster and easier time getting access to your assets including your bank accounts.
- You can plan to save your estate money on taxes. You can also give gifts and donations, which can help offset any estate tax.
What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?
If you die without a will, or intestate, the state oversees the dispensation of your assets, which it will typically distribute according to a set formula. Do you really want to put that decision in the hands of the state? If your children are minors, the court will appoint a representative to look after their interests. Do you really want to put that decision in the hands of the court? Dying intestate may also have tax consequences which can impact generational wealth.
Here are 8 Steps to Get Started
Choose the best executor(s) of your will.
You’ll need to name a still-living person or persons as the executor of your estate. That person(s), often a spouse, adult child, or another trusted friend or relative, is responsible for administering your estate, so choose wisely. You can also name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.
Choose the best guardian(s) for minor children.
If you have minor children, you’ll need to name a still-living person or persons as the guardian(s). That person(s) will have the legal responsibility to care for your child(ren) or an adult who does not have the capacity for self-care. Appointed guardians are often responsible for both the care of the “ward” (the child or incapable adult) and that person’s affairs, so choose wisely. Guardians are subject to scrutiny by the courts, and often must prepare financial statements documenting their management of the ward’s finances.
Hire an attorney to create a will.
You can write your will yourself, but for greater insurance, have it prepared by a trusts and estates attorney. The National Black Lawyers (NBL) has a great website for finding an attorney in your area. Click HERE and search in Areas of Practice for “Wills Trust Estates and Probate Law”. Or ask your local chamber of commerce for recommendations. The cost for an attorney can range from $300 to $1,200.
Create a testamentary will.
To maximize the likelihood that your wishes will be carried out, create what’s known as a testamentary will. This is the most familiar type of will; you sign the will in the presence of witnesses. It’s arguably the best insurance against successful challenges to your wishes by family members or business associates after you die. Other addenda to the will, such as power of attorney, a medical directive, or a living will, can direct the court on how to handle matters if you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Place your will in a safe place.
A probate court usually requires access to your original will before it can process your estate. It’s important, then, to keep your will where it is safe and yet accessible. Avoid storing it in a safe deposit box or in any other location where your family may need a court order to gain access. A waterproof and fireproof safe in your house is a good alternative.
Update your will from time to time.
Review your will at pivotal moments in your life, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary, guardian or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance, and so on. Changing your will is easy. You simply write a new will to replace the old one or make an addition using an amendment known as a codicil. Because of the serious nature of codicils and their power to change the entire will, two witnesses are usually required to sign when a codicil is added.
This summary is to get you started. Please check with a financial advisor, an attorney and family members and/or friends. Simply focus on getting this OneTransaction done to create generational wealth!