Where There's a Will, There's a Way
No, I’m not referring about mental toughness or strength of character. I’m talking about a written document — “A WILL” — your will. A will is a written document that clearly spells out what you want resolved with your estate and who gets what. And please, don’t “pooh pooh” the word “estate”. If you have property, if you have possessions, then you have an estate — plain and simple.
If you die without having a will (intestate), are you REALLY sure your spouse, your children, your business associate will get what you wanted them to get? Are you aware of the intestacy laws of your state? Oh, the horror stories that can be recounted because people died intestate. And so, the big question is this: Do you REALLY want the STATE to determine who is entitled to receive assets from your estate?
Check the Internet and you’ll see numerous articles listing the number of reasons for drafting a will. Yes, there are five, ten, fifteen, twenty, and more reasons to have a will. Well, instead of counting the reasons for having a will, let me just share some things to consider for a will. If you find any of the following questions relevant to your personal situation, then you definitely need a will.
What personal effects do you wish to give? Books, jewelry, clothing, photographs, furniture, appliances, personal items, household items? Etc.
And to Whom? Spouse, son, daughter, relatives, business associates, place of worship, civic or volunteer organization, school? Etc.
If you have minor children, who will you appoint as guardians? Will you leave money to be set aside to assist the guardians to rear your children?
If you leave property to minor children, do you want to leave it to them in a trust? Who will be the Trustee? What limits will you place on how they can spend the trust funds for the benefit of the children? At what age will the children have the right to gain access to the trust funds?
Who will you appoint as executor of your estate? Spouse, son, daughter, relatives, business associates, attorney, bank? Etc.
Do you want to exclude any family members from receiving any property from your estate? Great care must be taken in the wording of any exclusion in order to make it valid.
Who gets real estate and buildings? Spouse, son, daughter, relatives, business associates, charity? Etc.
How will taxes be paid?
And the list continues. Questions. Questions. Questions.
Oh, yes. And one other thing to think about: Did you know that funeral arrangements should not be made in a will. By the time the will is located, it may be too late to make the arrangements YOU desired. Make certain that your loved ones are aware of your preferences by other means. This can be done easily by means of a Letter of Instruction — or better yet, a Pre-Need Planner or Funeral Director.
Oh, there are so many other questions to consider. But here’s the bottom line: You can’t leave you wishes to chance. You can’t afford to procrastinate. If your wishes aren’t written down in a legal document, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out. In other words, Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way.