Many of us have already taken the time and the expense to create a will or trust to ensure that our wishes are carried out if we become incapacitated or pass away.
But one element is often overlooked and could trump what’s stated in those documents.
Drawing up a will or trust is something everyone should do regardless of what and how much they own. But creating them doesn’t always guarantee your assets will go where you wish.
“A lot of people misunderstand what’s going to happen to their assets if something happens to them,” said Amber Suhas, Central Pacific Bank. “They think if they have a will or a trust that any asset will automatically go to according to what they said in the will or the trust, but actually it’s the way that your assets are titled.”
When it comes to how your assets are distributed, titling them properly is crucial.
“Let’s say you want to add your sister to a joint-checking account and your will actually says everything goes to my brother,” Suhas said. “The way that it’s actually titled will determine so it will all go to your sister if something happens to you. That might not be what you wanted, but when you put her on as a joint-owner, you’re basically saying I’m going to give this to her if something happens to me.”
Proper planning can avoid court interference.
“If you don’t, you’re basically going to say well it can go through probate where I need to have an attorney to assist me to go to the courts and basically determine who it’s going to next,” Suhas said.
That can be a lengthy process and very public one as well. It could also be disastrous for kupuna.
“You may have people who are going to prey on elders knowing they are in a situation where assets are going to be transferred,” Suhas said. “Things change all the time and when you revisit, that’s also a good time to have conversations with your family and your loved one to let them know what your wishes are.”
The time to start is now and the best place to start is titling.