Every year, nearly 8 out of 10 U.S. tax filers receive a federal tax refund. According to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade, most of us plan to use that refund to meet financial goals, including bolstering savings, paying off debt, or contributing to retirement accounts.
In fact, over 80% of survey respondents said that a tax refund is either primarily for investing in the future or for paying down debt. Just over 19% said that a tax refund is strictly “fun money.”
If you’re in the former group, you might consider investing in the security of your future and your family’s future by using your refund to write a will or trust. Having a plan will protect your assets and your children.
Many people believe that an estate plan is necessary only for the wealthy, but dying without a will, also known as dying intestate, means that you have no control over who receives your assets, and it can leave your heirs navigating the expensive and confusing job of figuring out who gets what.
A will or trust also provides two critical documents that can be put to use if you become incapacitated: your Healthcare Directive or Living Will, and your Medical Power of Attorney. These documents allow the person of your choosing to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to, and it also outlines your wishes so that your loved ones have clarity when faced with difficult medical decisions.
Through your will, you will also be able to designate who will take care of your minor children if you cannot. If you were to die without a will, the state’s probate court would appoint a guardian—the person who would take care of your children. Even though you might consider your spouse the logical choice, imagine the consequences if both parents were to die in the same accident. For this reason, it is important for each parent to write a will to select their children’s guardian.
Although both death and taxes can be unpleasant to think about, using your tax refund to complete an estate plan can spare your loved ones from hardship.