If you want to be fondly remembered, you need to think about the unthinkable before it happens.
Life is uncertain, and your first duty is to your family. Here are some things you can do before the unthinkable happens.
If something happens to you, your family will need money to help replace your income. Most young families can easily afford $250,000 to $500,000 of term life insurance. As you grow older, you may need more insurance. But it gets more expensive as you age. Hopefully you will accumulate some savings over time, but if you haven't, remember that life insurance not a substitute for savings. It only provides in emergencies.
If you should die without a will, your titled property, such as your house and cars, cannot be transferred to your heirs without an expensive legal process. If you have children, your spouse may have to make intrusive reports to a court before funds can be spent for children. And, without a will, your property may not go where you would like it to go. Be smart, get a will and save your family from lots of misery.
Another good thing to do is educate yourself about trusts. For example, if your mother leaves you her estate and you have problem debts, your creditors will gobble it up. If, on the other hand, the money had been left in trust for you, it would be beyond the reach of your creditors. Trusts can also be used to protect your insurance proceeds and for establishing funds for your kids. You'll need a lawyer to help you, but the cost will be well worth it.
Unless you are very rich, your family won't need to worry about estate taxes, and there is no income tax on the value of inherited property. If property is sold, the tax basis is equal to the value on date of death, so even then, there may be little or no tax. And make sure your spouse knows where your important papers are. Educate your family about your plans, know a good lawyer, and the financial trauma of you demise can be minimized.
Unthinkable, yes. But also certain to happen someday.
So be ready to be fondly remembered.
Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries, spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.
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