Iowan John Criss was a lifelong bachelor who lived with his parents and never left the small town he loved—Sac City. Criss was 88 when he died on May 28, 2015.
Iowa Public Radio reports in its article, “Estate Planning: It's Never Too Early to Draw Up a Will,” that two years later, his reputation remains. He was the perfect gentleman who warmly welcomed customers into his Chief Clothing store on Main Street. Criss wanted to dress his customers in style.
However, shocking nearly all his friends and neighbors in this county seat of 2,135 people, Criss secretly was one of those quiet millionaires whose real net worth went largely unrecognized. It was revealed only when he bequeathed the vast majority of his estate—about $5.7 million—to Sac City.
He stated in his will that his money can't subsidize standard public works, such as street repair or the annual $300,000 bill to pay off the city's sewer debt.
While most don't leave a multi-million-dollar gift behind when they pass away, estate planning is essential for everyone. Researchers has found that more than 50% of Americans don’t have a will—the most basic estate planning document needed.
If you die without a will, there can be negative consequences like leaving your loved ones with no direction, perhaps leaving minor children without an assigned guardian and forcing your family to pay more in probate costs and taxes.
In addition to a will, you should have a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and a document that explains what you want done with your remains. A trust may be appropriate for some wealthier individuals to transfers ownership of certain assets to the trust upon a specific life circumstance, such as the death of the person who created the trust.
Reference: Iowa Public Radio (July 11, 2017) “Estate Planning: It's Never Too Early to Draw Up a Will”