A Will, Trust or Power of Attorney May Protect Your Privacy and Wealth

By Reston Expert, Jennifer V-E Johnson

“Everyone knows when a husband or wife passes away, the home and other assets go to the surviving spouse.”

“I have several investment properties in my name. If a tenant sues me, my home owners insurance will protect me.”

“I’m a professional athlete and I recently had a fan show up at my home. I don’t know how this fan found my home address.”

Does this sound familiar? These are common misconceptions held by people of all ages and backgrounds. Below are three examples that highlight the risks and liabilities that could occur without having a will, trust or power of attorney.

Example 1: After my grandfather passed away, my mother and her siblings learned that even though two people are married, the home and other assets are not automatically the right of the surviving spouse and can go to probate court. My grandfather’s will was last updated five years prior to his death. During this five year period, he purchased stocks, bonds and other assets that were not detailed in the will. Many of these items were only in my grandfather’s name and did not designate a beneficiary or trustee. Luckily, their home was in both of my grandparents names. There were countless hours and thousands of dollars spent fighting for these other assets and to update my grandmother’s will.

Example 2: My client is a professional real estate investor and owns ten rental properties worth approximately $8 million dollars. She is married, but all of her rental properties and mortgages are in her name only. She has no will, trust or power attorney. If a tenant was to get hurt and decides to sue, all of her real estate assets are currently exposed; because they are in her name and she does not have a will, trust or power or attorney to protect them.

Example 3: Another client is professional athlete and recently called to tell me that a fan had showed up at his home. Luckily, the fan was stopped at the gate by a guard and did not make it to the front door. His security guard informed him that the fan obtained the address in the county tax records. He was alarmed and asked how this could happen. After a few questions, I had determined that he had bought the home 2 years ago with the help of another Realtor. He had a will, but did not have a trust or power of attorney and therefore his home was recorded in his name.

All of these examples have two things in common: real estate and other assets worth thousands to millions of dollars and no plan to protect each persons privacy and wealth. Planning ahead with a will, trust or power of attorney may protect your privacy and wealth that you have worked so hard to acquire.

The following is a list of suggestions to assist you in finding an Attorney or legal professional to assist with preparing a will, trust or power of attorney. Consult professionals who are legally qualified to provide you with the appropriate information.

  • Consult a state licensed Attorney or legal professional to select the best ways to protect your real estate and other assets with a will, trust or power of attorney.
  • Conduct research to select an Attorney or legal professional to best serve your needs. For example, if you are a professional real estate investor, consider selecting an Attorney or legal professional that has other real estate investors as his/her clients instead a family law attorney.
  • Prior to meeting with your Attorney or legal professional make a list of needs and wants to ensure that you can meet your objectives.
  • Consider asking the Attorney or legal professional if you may assist with some of the leg work like collecting documents or obtaining the deed to your property to save time and money on the overall cost.
  • Contact your Assessor’s office for the county in which you reside to obtain the proper documents needed to record you will, trust or power of attorney.
  • If you are a professional real estate investor with one or more properties, find out the best way to protect your assets from any lawsuits that could be brought by a tenant or visitors of a tenant. Ensure that your assets are protected against such loses.
  • Prior to purchasing a new home or new investment property speak with your Attorney or legal professional to determine how the title will be held. Also provide this information to the settlement company or settlement Attorney.
  • Provide your homeowners insurance provider with a copy of your will, trust and power of attorney.

Having a will, trust or power of attorney or trust before purchasing your next home or investment property may provide an added layer of protection. It may also ensure that you protect your privacy and wealth.

For more information or assistance with setting up a real estate investment team (REIT), mortgage planning options or property management, contact us or email us.

All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Limited consent to preprint or republish this report may be posted, reprinted, emailed or faxed as long as the copyright and credit reflect “Courtesy of Jennifer V-E Johnson and WashMetroHomes.com.”

Courtesy of Jennifer V-E Johnson, Reston Expert and www.WashMetroHomes.com

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