|8 ways to leave a
mess behind for your heirs
|Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
"In some states
and with some types of assets, divorce
doesn't necessarily revoke the prior
spouse as being a beneficiary. For
instance, with any federal pension,
you have to change the beneficiary.
Specifically, you can't just get divorced
and assume that your spouse is no
longer your beneficiary. And the same
thing is true if you have a child:
You should update your will or whatever
you have," says Clifford.
8. Let others figure out what you want
Talking to your family about your intentions seems
obvious. After all, they will one day be combing through
all of your most closely guarded secrets.
"When someone passes
away, you as a survivor have to put
together these pieces of the puzzle
and many times these pieces don't
fit. And you have the hardest time
when, if there had been communication,
all of this could have been avoided,"
"I had one situation that was so bad. The person died without leaving a will or any instructions, and she left three daughters. And there was such fighting between them over who would get what that it went to the court. The court decided that no one was going to get anything and appointed a public guardian to come in and take the entire inventory and sell everything and then write three checks to the daughters.
"Had the mom left some kind of instructions or indication, all of that would have been prevented. But it happens a lot," he says.
Besides easing the transition after death, leaving specific instructions about your medical care while alive also comes in handy -- specifically, in the form of an advance medical directive.
"We definitely recommend a health care power of attorney if you are temporarily disabled, a financial power of attorney for someone to pay the electric bill and the gardener and the mortgage if you are disabled. There's also a very important document known as a living will which directs a physician. And that really came into prominence in the Terri Schiavo case. Had she had such a document, her family and her husband would not have been at odds fighting for what her wishes were," says Berkley.