By: Gina Hays; Director of Communications & Development
Too early to plan what happens to your ‘stuff’ after your demise? Never! If you’re like most, you find that some of life’s best-lived moments are those shared with others. We don’t often stop to think how our legacy can benefit the people, things and causes we care about, after we die. Even if we have credit card debt and live paycheck to paycheck, most of us own assets that we may not even consider as a way to make a significant gift when we pass on. Almost everyone owns assets that do not need to go through probate when they die. Naming a beneficiary is an easy way to make sure these assets will pass directly to individuals or organizations that we care about, even if we don’t have a will or estate plan.
For example, people generally list next-of-kin when completing beneficiary forms, but beneficiary forms are a great opportunity to leave a legacy by designating a charity to receive any portion, or all of that asset when you die. For example:
• Life insurance payouts
• Health savings account balances
• Retirement assets (IRA, 401(k), 403(b), pension, etc.)
Giving some reflection on what you truly care about – what makes you happy – is a good start to reviewing your assets and making sure you’ve listed beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries that reflect your values and principles.
But don’t stop there - other accounts that don’t need to go through probate can include your everyday checking and savings bank accounts, certificates of deposit, and securities such as stocks and bonds. For these assets, completing a form for transfer-on-death (TOD), or payable-on-death (POD) is a simple and hassle-free way to have some control over who or what entity receives these assets when you die. The financial institutions can provide you with those forms.
Beyond these simple forms that don’t involve an attorney (but may require a signature witness or notary), having a will or estate plan is a good idea. It’s estimated that more than half of Americans do not have an estate plan in place. Don’t let this be you – your legacy is too important! If you don’t have a will or estate plan, or if it’s been a few years since you’ve reviewed it, or if your circumstances have recently changed (marriage, birth, family death, etc.), then it’s time for a review. Your attorney can help you with this, or find an accredited estate planner or estate planning law specialist in your area.
At Families First, all planned and estate gifts go toward the Friends of the Family endowment. Since 1835, Families First has supported people and families through the stresses of day-to-day life and in times of crisis, recovery, and healing. The endowment fund was established to ensure Families First’s ability to continue its legacy of service for generations to come.
If you’d like to name Families First to receive a small portion of your assets, our legal name is Families First Indiana, Inc. and our tax identification number is 35-0877572. Have questions? Give us a call, 317-634-6341. We may not know the immediate answer, but we’ll know where to find it. All requests for information are confidential and non-obligatory.