Of the trendy terms to come around in the past decade, “bucket list” remains among the most useful, says retirement planning expert Jeff Gorton, a veteran Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner™, and head of Gorton Financial Group.
“Unfortunately, after some have listed their items and even checked a few things off, they forget about one important item that really counts after they’ve ‘kicked the bucket’ – their will,” Gorton said.
Only about 40 percent of adults in America have a will
“But what’s the alternative? If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property, without regard to your priorities,” says Gorton, who also advocates his clients make use of a written income plan, a living document that helps organize financial priorities. “Why not enjoy the fact that a will is an instrument of power? You get to decide who gets what.”
Since so many adults don’t have a will, many don’t understand how they work. Gorton breaks down wills into four basic parts:
Here’s one element:
Estate — Your estate encompasses everything you own, including real property, financial investments, cash and personal possessions. Once you have identified specific gifts you would like to distribute, you can apportion the rest of your estate
in equal shares among your heirs, or you can split it into percentages. For example, you may decide to give 45 percent each to two children and the remaining 10 percent to a sibling.
“You’re not legally required to have a professional write a will for you, but I highly recommend you get certified help because these documents are often contested by people who are unhappy with the decisions you made,” he says. “After working a lifetime for your assets, you deserve to have them go where you want after you’re gone, and your family will be grateful to you for not leaving them with the headache of trying to sort out your estate."