Who Needs a Will?
Where There’s a Will… There’s Peace of Mind.
If you’re like the majority of Americans, odds are that you don’t have a will. Maybe you think there’s time to get a handle on that later. Maybe you think you don’t have enough assets to matter. Maybe you think your surviving spouse will simply inherit everything, and that will also take care of your children. Maybe you just don’t want to think about your own demise.
But writing a will is financial necessity – a safeguard for your family in the event of your death. If you die without a will, the state will make decisions about your assets and guardianship of your children, so writing a will is the prudent and loving thing to do. Even if you do not have dependents, a will lets you control how your worldly goods will be divided. It will give you peace of mind to know that what you worked to achieve will be dispersed according to your wishes.
Here are a few guidelines for planning a will:
Consult an Attorney
True, there is software available that lets you write a will yourself, but not every state recognizes this type of will. Also, an attorney knows the laws specific to your state, and can guide you through potential pitfalls. If you have a software program for writing a will, use it as a planning tool to gather and review your information before you meet with an attorney; that may help you save on the attorney’s billable hours. If you don’t have an attorney, ask your family, friends, or co-workers for a recommendation. You might also ask your bank for a referral. And make sure that the attorney you consult specializes in wills and probate in your state.
An attorney can help you decide if you and your spouse should make a joint will, or if separate wills are better in your situation.
Name a Guardian for Your Minor Children
Be sure that the person you select is willing to make the life-long commitment to raise your children, and that your children will be comfortable with them. Choose an alternate guardian in case the primary guardian can’t follow through.
Name a Trustee to Manage Any Money You Leave to the Children
You may decide that the guardian should also be the trustee, but sometimes it’s beneficial to separate these duties.
Name an Executor
The executor carries out the instructions in your will, makes sure that all your debts and taxes are paid, and that any inheritance is distributed according to your will. If you do not choose an executor, that state will pick one, and that person will be paid from your estate.