Will Myth #2: If I die everything will go to my spouse

Everyone thinks this, but without proper planning, it’s not always the case. If you have living children or parents at the time of your death, they could also get a share.
There are two ways that you can ensure your spouse gets everything: joint titling or a will.
First, if everything you and your spouse own is titled in both of your names, and you have joint ownership with “rights of survivorship” everything will automatically pass to your spouse upon your death. Things such as cars, real estate and bank accounts can be titled this way. But beware; there are tax and other consequences for doing this. Please consult an attorney, or financial advisor, before changing ownership of any of your property.
Second, have a will to direct the probate court. If your will says that your spouse gets everything, that is pretty much the end of it. The probate court will take your will and allow your spouse to take ownership of your property.
Some people would like to give their children, other relatives or charities a portion of their estate. Without a will the probate court cannot determine what you wanted to do. The court will look at the “laws of intestacy” which direct how a person’s estate must be distributed. It is unlikely that the formulas they use will make sure your children have a nest egg for college or that your favorite charity gets the gift you want them to have.
Need a will? Contact Attorney Jill Duffy at 248-624-5500.


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