Protecting Your Investment Through Estate Planning

Homeownership brings households throughout the country an avenue to create and strengthen generational wealth, and a place to house cherished memories and time spent with loved ones. Through life planning, you can ensure these moments and investments remain protected for years to come.

An estate plan details who will inherit your assets after you’ve passed. It’s not always easy and can be challenging to think about, but having a plan in place is critical to ensure the next generation is set up for success and valuable possessions are managed, with one of the most important possessions being the place you call home.

If you don’t designate who will receive your property after you pass, you lose control over what happens to it. The process differs by state, but often results in a probate court deciding who will inherit your home, a lengthy process that can produce a great deal of fees and even drive rifts in families.

It’s important to remember that the courts won’t automatically transfer assets to the surviving spouse, nor will they know the most responsible or trusted child, sibling or loved one to give ownership of your property.

If an individual does not have any heirs—no spouse, children, grandchildren, surviving parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts or uncles—the property will be returned to the state. This process may also occur if assets go unclaimed for an extended period of time.

Learn about the laws in your state.

Today, just one in three American adults (34%) have an estate plan, and of those individuals, 20% have not updated their plan in the past five years. What’s more, about 72% of adult American women, and 59% of adult American men, are without a plan.

Estate planning isn’t just for the rich—everyone can benefit from having one in place.

Explore the answers to common questions many individuals have about estate planning and learn how you can get started with the process.


Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why do I need a will?

Answer: A will allows you to designate heirs to your property, investments, bank balances and valuable possessions, and ensure that these wishes are carried out after you pass. Likewise, a will allows you to leave any assets to an institution, organization or charity of your choice. A will is critical to protecting your loved ones by preventing them from receiving a large tax burden after you pass, eliminating any family arguments before they start, and ensuring any children are cared for by those you trust most. Ultimately, it makes for a seamless process and gives your loved ones one less thing to worry about after you pass.


Question: When should I create a will?

Answer: You can begin creating a will as soon as you become a legal adult. It’s critical to have a will in place and to update your will when experiencing any of the following major life occurrences:

  • Owning property
  • Getting married
  • Having children
  • Amassing significant savings or investments
  • Venturing on big trips or traveling for extended periods of time
  • Inheriting money or other assets
  • Going through a divorce
  • Welcoming grandchildren and new family members


Question: How often can I update my will?

Answer: You can change your will as often as you like. Even if you haven’t experienced any of the aforementioned major life occurrences since the last time you updated your will, you should still read over the document every few years to ensure it remains as you like.


Question: How do I create a will?

Answer: Begin preparing your Last Will and Testament by gathering a list of your assets, debts and beneficiaries, as well as the chosen executor and any legal guardians, if necessary. You may create the document on your own through a number of online will makers, or you may work in-person with an attorney to have a guide by your side throughout the process. Once your will is drafted, it must be witnessed by typically two individuals. These are people of sound mind, at least 18 years of age, and trusted by you and your loved ones. Many states require a will to be notarized. You can do so at law firms or law offices, AAA and UPS offices, accountant offices, real estate firms and offices, and similar places. Locate a notary in your area.


About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
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