Do you know who will inherit your money when you die? Many people think they know the answer to this question. But are you sure your paperwork lines up with your wishes?
People don’t always pay close attention to how they register (or title) their property. This can mean your financial accounts, your house, or even your car. It is important to get this registration step right, because these instructions are what gets your final wishes onto paper and into action. Missing this step can create extra hassles for your family, both before and after your death.
The term ‘registration’ can mean a few different things. First, it refers to the names listed on the account. These are the people who have access and decision making powers on your account.
Registration can also refer to the people you have named as beneficiaries on those accounts.
There are a few reasons why you should carefully consider your registration choices.
1) Proper registration makes account access easier and more efficient.
2) Proper registration allows you to choose where your assets go after you pass away, without an outside party making the choice for you. (I.E. probate court).
Unfortunately, problems with account registration often creates even bigger problems. While you are living, registration problems can make it harder to access your funds. For example, if you were in the hospital and needed some money, is someone set up to be able to help you with this? Different registration options can be set up, such as adding a joint owner or a Power of Attorney. Proper registration will determine who has access to your funds and authority to make changes during your lifetime.
Registration problems can also mean taking your estate through Probate Court. Going through Probate adds extra time and expense to the estate settling process. This can be a frustrating and complicated process for your family. Proper registration can help the money flow directly from your account to your beneficiaries, avoiding Probate Court completely.
We advise clients to make sure their accounts are set up correctly–BEFORE there is a problem or a health crisis. It is good practice to review your account and property registrations every few years. If you have questions about your account registration, or if you are unsure about estate planning in general, we would be happy to review these items with you.
You only get one chance to get it right. We are here to help if you need it.