Estate Planning Law Articles
Articles written by lawyers and expert witnesses worldwide
explaining the different aspects of Estate Planning.
Some people are prone to adopting the "it will never happen to me" point of view, but these are the same individuals who often find themselves in difficult situations due to a lack of preparation. This is something to keep in mind when it comes to incapacity planning. Believe it or not,the likelihood of contracting dementia later in your life is very significant.
They say that you should not always believe what you read, and along these lines we have some celebrity estate planning information to update. Last summer the talented young singer Amy Winehouse passed away at her London home. Whenever a celebrity dies people become interested this individual's estate,and certain assumptions can be made about someone like Amy Winehouse.
One of the things that separates professionals from others is the fact that professionals have the right tools for the job and they know which tool to use depending on the situation. This is true of estate planning attorneys and it is one of the reasons why you would do well to obtain legal counsel when you are planning for the future.
Estate planning is not a matter of visiting a legacy planning attorney one day,drawing up some documents, and then tucking them away in a lockbox somewhere forever. Many people don't recognize the fact that estate planning is an ongoing process, and this is partially because of the fact that they don't necessarily anticipate any profound changes taking place in their lives.
There was once a time when being a millionaire implied that you were truly of the upper crust.The commonly held wisdom was that a millionaire could live forever on the interest alone and that million dollar figure took on a magical allure. Nowadays things are quite a bit different and everyday people who work hard and do the right things could find themselves with assets exceeding $1 million.
What You Should Know About Guardianship, Living Wills, and Power of Attorney for Older People and Their Families
Introduction - Adults who become incapable of caring for themselves, their property or their dependents may have a -guardian appointed for them. However, guardianship can be avoided through tile use of living wills and powers of attorney. In such circumstances, personal preference can be respected without the need for court appointed guardians.
As life spans continue to increase and more people are living in extended family environments,many are having to deal with financial issues that affect their elderly parents. In many situations these financial topics can be a taboo subject in the family, especially when the elderly parents have a lot of pride and are reluctant to speak about financial difficulties.
Whether you took a summer vacation this year,are planning on traveling for Labor Day,or are planning some time away for the holidays you probably didn't give much thought to estate planning when making your vacation plans. This is natural,but it's also a prudent choice to spend a little time thinking about what might go wrong and whether you'll be prepared.
Nearly two decades on, the legal battle over the assets of the Carvel ice cream franchise, founded here in West Palm Beach, continues, with West Palm Beach legal services stepping in to get involved. The story goes that ‘Mr. Carvel’ founder and his wife had executed identical wills that placed their assets in trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse, stating that any remaining be deposited to a charitable foundation.
Information for homeowners about the reality of bankruptcy. All home buyers, particularly in light of the real estate collapse of recent years, should be aware of material changes in bankruptcy law which could affect them in the event of financial hardship. There are two key components a prospective or recent home buyer should be mindful of concerning a potential bankruptcy.
Mary Smith contacted me to assist her in the sale of a vacant lot owned by both Mary and her son, Michael. Mary originally went to a local title agency and was advised that she cannot complete the sale because her son is a minor – i.e., under the age of 18 years. Mary owns a 50% interest in the property, and her 17 year old son, Michael, owns the remaining 50% interest. They have a Buyer ready to purchase the lot for $25,000.00.
Anyone with a substantial amount of assets eventually asks this question.Wanting to protect and provide for your grandchildren when you die is certainly understandable. However, spoiling them may not be in their best interest. The object then becomes creating an estate plan that provides for your grandchildren without making life too easy for them. With a little bit of thought and the proper estate planning tools you can accomplish your goal.
Knowing that you are in a position to leave behind enough money to provide for your loved ones when you die is a wonderful feeling. However,it can also be the source of concern though because handing over a large sum of money to someone can create as many problems as it solves.If you want to provide for a loved one without spoiling him or her, consider utilizing some of the following estate planning steps and tactics:
Some people within the estate planning community call the estate tax the "death tax" because it is a tax that is levied because you passed away and for no other reason. The assets that comprise your estate are simply your real and personal property you accumulate while you are living.You paid taxes along the way and these assets are what you were able to hold onto after paying them. They are not taxed again while you are alive.
Adding to the increasing mountain of evidence which shows that remaining socially connected and interacting with others is key to maintaining your health as you get older researchers in California have recently revealed the results of a study which showed that seniors who feel lonely are at a significantly higher risk of dying than those who do not.
When it comes to retirement and estate planning a lot of people in America seem to be ignoring the advice that is routinely and constantly given by experts. Statistics are continually being presented that indicate a lack of retirement preparedness among the baby boomer generation. And of course if you are not in a position to retire comfortably you will not be in a position to leave behind significant resources to your loved ones after you pass away.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to a tax rate? This is an ongoing question that is always being debated among lawmakers. However, even the most zealous pro-tax advocates may have to concede that a tax that consumes the majority of the resources in question is a bit excessive. This will be the case with the federal estate tax in 2013, assuming the laws that are in place as of this writing remain in effect.
People are free to make their own choices in life and you ultimately have to live with the results. This is something to keep in mind when you consider the topic of retirement. If you make the choice to proceed without any particular financial plan in place while acting in a less than prudent manner with regard to your spending you may enjoy certain experiences. However, the accumulation of this lifestyle could leave you lacking when you start to approach the typical retirement age.
Statistics indicate that a significant percentage of people who are reaching their 60’s are not financially prepared for retirement. Indeed,there are no guarantees, and you have to plan ahead intelligently and pragmatically if you want to be able to retire in relative comfort.
Retirement should be looked at as an expense that you must prepare for well in advance. As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age,statistics are indicating that a very significant percentage of these individuals are never going to be able to retire due to a lack of preparation.
There are individuals who are under the impression that using a last will is the most economical choice when you are planning your estate. They have heard that it costs less to create a will than it does to create a revocable living trust. While it is true that there is more legal work involved in trust creation whether or not it is more expensive in the long run is going to depend on your situation.
Owning Real Estate in multiple states is a dream for many, but a reality that many have already achieved. This means you could have a residence in one state and a vacation home in another state. This is a good thing for the few that can pull it off, but there can be consequences down the road. Owning property in multiple states can drastically affect your estate plan.
When a relative or other loved one dies in Pennsylvania, his or her estate must be properly administered and closed pursuant to PA law. The person who has passed away is called the decedent. Any property that was owned solely by the decedent becomes part of the decedent’s estate. An estate executor or administrator must be appointed to handle the many responsibilities associated with PA estate administration.
There is a popular misconception that is part wives tale part urban legend that the best way to disinherit someone, particularly a child, is to leave them a dollar in your will. The will in this case usually contains a provision such as "I leave a dollar to my child". Leaving a dollar in a will is probably the worst way to disinherit someone from a will and is totally unnecessary.
Estate planning extends into areas beyond arranging for the eventual transfer of your monetary and physical assets to your heirs. All of the eventualities of aging should also be taken into account because people usually don't pass away suddenly without experiencing any health difficulties beforehand.
If the value of your estate is such that you will be exposed to the estate tax, you may want to consider transferring resources to family members who are in line for inheritances while you are still alive. There is a gift tax in place to stand in the way of this practice for the most part, but there are certain exemptions. Among them is the $13,000 per year, per person exemption.
As thousands of baby boomers enter retirement every day, many of them are finding their ideas of what retirement would be like are very different than the reality. It comes as a shock to many people to find that they actually enjoy working and their lives are more fulfilling if they find a part-time job once they retire. Here are several possible choices you may want to consider if you're itching to get out of the house and take on a part-time job.
People who are involved in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships may not get legally married in the state of Ohio. However, you do have the legal right to assert your wishes, and you must take advantage of this right if you want to make sure that your partner is provided for after your death.
While much effort has gone into bringing public awareness to the prevalence of child abuse over the last few decades, the frequency with which the elderly are also abused is just beginning to come to light. In many ways the elderly can be considered as vulnerable as a child, making them an easy target. The elderly are often victims of physical or emotional abuse; however, unlike children, the elderly are also prime targets for another type of abuse – financial abuse.
In some sense, most of us feel emotionally or culturally responsible for taking care of our aging parents in both a physical and financial sense however, did you know that you may be legally responsible for their care as well? If you did not know that then you are not alone—most people are not aware that they may have a legal responsibility to provide financial care to a parent. This legal obligation stems from state filial responsibility laws.
The first reaction that most people have when they learn that they have been cut out of a deceased relative's estate plan is to want to fight. It's an understandable reaction and it is natural to be angry about not receiving an inheritance that you feel entitled to receive. However, it is best to take some time to think about what you stand to gain from a challenge to the estate plan before you start the fight.
How often do you use your email account? I bet a lot more than you did 5 years ago. You probably have some important business that is conducted almost exclusively by email. That is just the way the world has developed. What happens to those emails when you pass away? The answer to that question is unclear.
Procrastination is a big problem when it comes to estate planning, and truth be told making final arrangements is indeed a unique endeavor. Passing away is without question the last thing on your list of things to do. It's easy to put estate planning on the back burner because it can seem like you will always have time to take care of it later.
Most view making an estate plan as a private activity that is between a lawyer and the client. There is a veil of confidentiality that allows one to keep their plan guarded and for their secrets to be taken to the grave. This may not be the best course of action as one may want to include their children or loved ones in on their estate plan.
If you sit around waiting for retirement to arrive you may be waiting for a very long time. As the baby boomers reach the typical retirement age far too many of them are finding out the hard way that retirement does not come easy. While it is true that we have safety net programs in place such as Medicare and Social Security you are probably not going to get very far on your Social Security check alone.
Is a Will that you execute by hand when you are "three sheets to the wind"valid? This is an interesting question and it is one that is going to have to be answered by the courts in the state of California. A handwriting expert actually used that phrase to describe the state of mind of an individual who would have penned the last Wills that have been presented by deceased painter Thomas Kinkade's live-in girlfriend.
A brief explanation of how to get probate in the UK for a French person owning assets in the UK at the date of death, and what to do if it is necessary to remove an administrator appointed for the use and benefit of someone else. If a French person dies with assets in the UK the executors may have to get probate in the UK before the asset can be released.
There is no reason to automatically assume that you should use a Will when you are considering estate planning. A Will can seem like a simple document but it can yield some not-so-simple results. If you utilize a Will your estate will be probated at your death. This process takes place under the supervision of the probate court and it can be quite time consuming, expensive, proceedings are public. Your estate may have multiple probates if you have interests in real property in multiple states.
You have to be aware of the possibility of challenges to your estate planning documents when you are making preparations for the future. This is especially true if there are more than one set of documents circulating. As a layperson, do you know how to go about updating an existing estate plan on your own? It is likely that your answer will be no, but this is what the painter Thomas Kinkade apparently attempted to do before he passed away.
You may think that an adequate estate plan consists of a will or living trust coupled with a durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney and living will. There is now an additional estate planning document that you may need to have for a more complete plan. This additional document is what is known as a HIPAA Authorization and could make a big difference in the quality of care that you receive.
One of the most difficult choices that has to be made when you make your last will and testament is who will be the personal representative or executor. The personal representative is the person that is in charge of your estate when you die. A decision that is just as important as naming an executor and is most often overlooked is who will be the back up or alternative in case that person you choose as executor is unable or unwilling to perform the duties and responsibilities of the job.
The goal for some in a marriage is to make sure that the person they marry gets no inheritance from them when they die. Whatever the reason, it takes work to leave a spouse with nothing in most states and cannot be done with a simple will. The goal for some in a marriage is to make sure that the person they marry gets no inheritance from them when they die.
A Personal Representative (sometimes called an administrator or an executor) is a person who is given the responsibility of settling the estate of a deceased person. A personal representative can be nominated by the individual who makes a Will or appointed by a court handling the probate proceedings in the event there is no Will.
Although everyone’s estate plan is unique,there are a number of common mistakes that can cause your loved ones unnecessary grief down the road. Here’s just a few of the mistakes people make when planning their estate:
Getting married is a time when there is enough to worry about. There are a million things that need to be done for just the wedding. After the wedding is over a new marriage can have a huge impact on your estate plan. It is always important to review and update your will prior to getting married and at the very least after the marriage has begun.
A short article explaining the process for the next of kin of someone who lived outside the UK to get probate in the UK. There has been a vast increase in UK born individuals emigrating, but they often keep a rainy day fund in the UK. Other people who are not UK residents have ties to the UK and have some assets here. This has led to demand for legal advice about how to get international probate and release the UK assets when someone dies domiciled outside the UK.
Wills and Living Wills are key parts of any good estate plan. However, though the two sound similar they serve very different purposes. A Living Will states your choices for the kind of medical care you want to receive if you become sick or injured and are unable to talk.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is meant to be in place to allow you to make healthcare decisions for yourself when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. You are considered to be legally incapacitated when you can no longer speak for yourself. What happens when you become incapacitated without having a healthcare power of attorney in place?
A Living Will and Healthcare Power are the most important estate planning documents that you can make. This is for the simple fact that they affect you and have huge ramifications for you while you are still alive. The question that matters most is when is it the best time to make sure that these documents are in place. The simple answer is that the best time to make a Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney is before you need them.
Your estate plan is intended to be an individual, and highly personal, set of documents. Your estate plan decides some of the most important issues and makes some of the most important determinations that you will make in your lifetime. When you sit down with your estate planning attorney to work on your estate plan,be prepared for some questions that may make you rather uncomfortable.
The legislatures, courts and Law Reform Committees in Canada have provided different policy reasons to justify strict compliance with the formalities of execution.Section 4(1)(a) of the Succession Law Reform Act is clear and unambiguous. A will is not valid unless there is strict compliance with the formalities of execution. Nonetheless, uncertainty exists because several Ontario cases suggest the Courts may dispense with the strict compliance.
When this year comes to a close we are going to be looking at an entirely different lay of the land when it comes to the estate tax parameters. With this in mind we would like to examine the subject of estate tax exclusion portability. What does portability mean in this context?
The federal estate tax is applicable to everyone as an individual, so each person is afforded an individual exemption. The current amount of the estate tax exclusion is $5.12 million. So, a husband and wife would each have $5.12 million for a total of $10.24 million that could be passed along to their heirs before the estate tax becomes applicable.
There are a few ways to create a Last Will, one of which is a holographic Will. This sounds rather high-tech, but in fact the reverse is true. A holographic Will is simply a Will that is written entirely in the handwriting of the person creating the will and signed by them, as well. The popular painter Thomas Kinkade died recently at the age of 54 due to acute intoxication. He was living with his girlfriend Amy Pinto-Walsh at the time.
When you record your final wishes you are merely asserting your decisions in private. If you are keeping things confidential nobody will know the details until after you pass away so you will not be privy to any reactions. But when these details do in fact emerge interested parties are going to have opinions, and they may not always be positive.Clearly,this is going to be true if you disinherit someone who felt as though he or she was in line for a bequest.
By Jaburg Wilk
What is the best approach for your estate plan and tax savings strategies in 2012? There are plenty of planning opportunities in 2012, regardless of actions that may be taken by Congress. With the uncertainty in the Estate Tax and Gift Tax Laws, coupled with an election cycle, many people are faced with the decision of what approach is best for both their estate plan and tax savings strategies in 2012.
Spouses & children who are disinherited often commence applications for dependant’s relief under Part V of the Succession Law Reform Act. Even if a party qualifies as a dependant, it is important to ensure that there are sufficient assets in the estate to fund support. To that end, section 72 of the Succession Law Reform Act includes assets which ordinarily are excluded in order to fund that support. One such asset is a “gift mortis causa”.
To someone looking in on probate law from the outside, it often appears as if probate lawyers and judges use very strange terminology. Some of the terminology is so odd it can appear as if probate law is written in an entirely different language. Let's take a look at some of the stranger terms you may encounter during the probate and estate planning process.
The recent British Colombia Supreme Court case of Borkenhagen v. Kessler (FN 1). It is a worthwhile read for those interested in area of estates and trusts because it reviews the basic tenets of resulting and constructive trusts. “I don’t care who paid for the property – it’s in my name.” But that’s the middle of the story – let’s start at the beginning.
As we get older, our bodies tend to develop specific types of medical conditions that are much more common in the elderly than they are in younger people. Even though half of all arthritis sufferers are under the age of 65,about one out of every five adults will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their lives.
There are some changes to the estate tax parameters pending at the end of this year when the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 expires. Some of them are rather high profile like the increase in the rate to 55% and the decrease in the exclusion to just $1 million.
The sandwich generation is a relatively new term that applies to anyone who is at risk of being “sandwiched” between aging parents and young adult children. When both need your financial assistance, you can quickly find yourself in a both a financial and emotional crisis of your own.
As you live in your home over the years, you can become attached because so many memories seem to be ingrained into the very structure itself. You also may feel totally comfortable and have everything arranged according to your tastes. That idea resonates with people of all ages.
People who get divorced are not remarrying with the same frequency that they did some years ago according to current census statistics. This of course does not mean that they are not entering into relationships with the same level of frequency.
Recent studies have shown that Americans age 55 and older are having an increasingly difficult time paying their debts. One study, performed by the Washington-based Employee Benefits Research Institute, showed that between 1992 and 2007, households of those who were in their mid-50s or older more than doubled their average debt load to about $70,000 each.
The estate tax exclusion is the amount of financial assets that you can pass on to your heirs before the federal estate tax is applied. At the present time this amount is $5.12 million. This $5.12 million exclusion is afforded to every taxpayer as an individual. So, if you are married you and your spouse each have $5.12 million to work with before the estate tax kicks in.
The death of a spouse ranks at the top of a list of stressful lifetime events. If you survive your spouse, you’ll need to make sure you take good care of yourself. Most likely, for the first few weeks, you may be in a constant state of confusion, running on autopilot. Here are some tips to help you during the initial aftermath of your spouse’s death.
There are some things in life that we all wish we had done differently. No one makes the right choices 100 percent of the time. Of course, we cannot hop in the Delorean and tell our younger selves to make different choices, at least not yet.
In preparing to make important life decisions the first thing to do is to research your options. You cannot make good decisions until you know what is possible you and how effective the different choices are. This is true in estate planning, as there many different legal instruments that can be used in estate planning.
The idea of being uprooted and moving into an assisted living community is not an especially pleasant one for many senior citizens. People become attached to their homes and this can be particularly true of elders who may have stored so many memories within these friendly confines.
When deciding whether to remove executors, Ontario courts focus on the best interests of the beneficiaries & the future administration of the estate. For judges, removing executors is about protecting beneficiaries & not about punishing someone for past misdeeds. In our experience, when families argue over which beneficiary should be executor the court’s default position is to appoint a neutral estate trustee.
If there is one area of modern life that seniors are often not so comfortable with, it is new technology. However, there are a range of new gadgets that have come onto the market recently that can help both seniors and their families, especially when the senior lives alone or does not have regular assistance. Here’s a brief list of some of the newer options that technology has wrought.
Estate planners often talk about creating the plan that meets the specific needs of the individuals they are advising. They ask what you want and give you choices about how to get what you want. However, let's step back and look at the bigger picture. Estate planning is not only about you. It's also about your family and other loved ones.
Recent Census Bureau statistics are indicating that people who have been divorced are not remarrying with the same frequency that they did in the past. There are a number of different reasons for this and financial considerations would certainly be among them.
The billionaire owners of the Philadelphia Eagles have announced their decision to file for divorce in PA after 20 years of marriage. The owners of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, have announced their decision to divorce, ending their marriage of 20 years.
When you pass away, you will probably leave more things behind than you realize. That’s why you need an estate plan that covers everything, even those things that you forget. However, there is one thing that an estate plan cannot cover unless you make specific plans for it: your pets. What will happen to your pets if you pass away before they do?
Do you ever wonder if vampires have estate plans? Of course, vampires are not real, but they seem to be everywhere in popular culture today. Turn on the TV, and you can find a vampire show at anytime, or a vampire movie. When I see these shows I think about their estate plans.
Planning for a medical emergency is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family. After all, life is unpredictable and even healthy people can suddenly become ill. Add to that the possibility of an accident or unexpected disability and you see how you could suddenly find yourself incapacitated, unable to make decisions about your life and your property.
One of the reasons why some people choose alternatives to a last will when they are arranging for the eventual transfer of assets to their heirs is because they want to avoid probate. What is probate you ask? Probate is a legal process that takes place under the supervision of the probate court.
As an estate executor, you have the legal power to manage a deceased person's property and redistribute that property to new owners. With this power, state probate laws impose specific responsibilities as well as limitations. If you violate these state restrictions you may face personal liability as an executor.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Everything on the Internet is true.” If you've ever looked for legal advice online, it won't take you very long to discover a wide range of advice, opinion, commentary, and information about estate planning topics. Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing if any of it is correct.
If you're single, whether or not you're young, you are part of the group that is the least likely to have an estate plan. The fact is most single people rarely consider estate planning concerns and few have taken any steps to developing important planning elements. Unfortunately, single people often need these specific state planning elements much more than their married contemporaries. Here are three reasons why you should begin estate planning as soon as possible if you are single.
When you are planning for your retirement years you have to make projections a couple of decades into the future, maybe even longer. The fact is that crystal balls are pretty hard to come by these days, and try as we might it is very difficult to predict the future with full accuracy.
Sometimes, when you have difficulty making a decision, it’s helpful to write out a list of the pros and cons of the decision. There are people who swear by this method and use it all the time. Do you know what the list would look like if your question is "Should I wait to get an estate plan?"
Arthritis can strike at any time, though it most typically affects people over the age of 60. There are many forms of arthritis, and while there aren't cures for this condition, there are effective treatments that are best begun at the early stages of the disease. If you notice any of these common arthritis warning signs or symptoms, you should make an appointment to meet with your doctor so you can be evaluated for possible arthritis.
Over the years there has been a lot of chatter about avoiding probate because it’s this horrible expensive “monster.” It’s not. Look at the people or the source that is claiming its horrible - its services and people who are trying to convince you to pay for a trust now and avoid probate. Trusts can cost thousands of dollars and that will cost you the money now and it does not avoid probate.
If there are several children, who will be the administrator? That is a tough question to answer, however, when families are cooperative with each other, then it should be one who is closest to the estate or assets. Simply for the reason that it’s easier for that child to protect and manage the asset such as a house if they live nearby rather than another state.
Careful estate planning is the best way to maximize your inheritance for your children and your future income. Speak with an attorney today and start preparing a plan. Draft a Will and, perhaps a trust, and all the related documents needed to protect against government seizure, expensive future litigation and probate issues.
You love your family and you would not want to accidentally disinherit them, right? So, you need to plan otherwise, unintended results can happen, especially if your estate is fairly large and complicated.
What You and Loved Ones Need to Know about Power of Attorney, Living Will Documents and Guardianships…Plan Ahead
Guardianships can be avoided through the use of living wills and powers of attorney documents. Living Wills and powers of attorney can provide for that person and their family when the person is temporarily or permanently unable to handle his or her own affairs due to an illness or injury.
Many of us have lived through generation X, the “me” generation, and generation “Y”, but have you ever heard of the “sandwich” generation? Unbeknownst to you, you may be one of the millions who will make up the sandwich generation.
Court Battles Deplete Estate assets leaving families to fight and receive less to nothing…..
The appellate division recently overturned a Nassau County case.
Minimizing Stress in Your Golden Years
If your parents or a loved one have suffered an injury or have an illness that makes it difficult or impossible for them to address their own needs, you may need to secure in-home care services. At the same time, you will want to take all appropriate legal measures to protect your loved ones and to give you the authority and flexibility necessary to quickly and effectively handle legal, medical, financial and other issues.
The “me” generation is rapidly becoming the “sandwich” generation. If the term is foreign to you, don’t feel left out. It is simply a new term that is being used to describe people born in the 50’s and 60’s who are suddenly feeling as though they are being “sandwiched” between the needs of aging parents and young adult children.
If the term “sandwich generation” doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. This is term that is being used to describe people who are nearing middle age that are being “sandwiched” between the needs of grown children and aging parents.
If you are like many people who have been fortunate enough, and worked hard enough, to have built up a sizeable and valuable estate, you may wish to provide a certain degree of financial stability to future generations. At the same time, you may be concerned that simply handing over your estate upon your death will create a spoiled child or grandchild.
If you were to be among the many who are going to require living assistance when you reach an advanced age you have some decisions to make. A lot of people will decide to reside in an assisted living community. Depending on your physical condition, your financial capabilities, and your personal preferences this may indeed be the best choice for you.
If you were to ask yourself how you would want your possessions distributed if you were to pass away at any given time you may well find that you would not want everything to go to your legal next of kin. This is going to be especially true if you are in a committed relationship.