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Plan today for peace of mind tomorrow

February 24, 2012

Your will is the document that details your final instructions. Most wills are straightforward in nature — your assets go to your spouse and your children. Your "assets" include everything you own – including cash, your business, your home, property, furniture, and even items that have sentimental value.
A well-crafted will ensures the well being of loved ones in your absence, especially if you have family or children.

A smoother estate process
But that’s not all. By being clear about who receives what in the event of your death, a will can cut the cost and time needed to settle an estate and reduce conflicts and hurt feelings among friends and family members. Here are some things to keep in mind. Be sure to include your spouse in the discussion, along the person you choose to execute your will, and possibly any older children.
  • Make a list of everyone you’d like to include in your will. Jot down names, addresses and the relationships of these individuals.
  • Designate an executor of your will. This individual will be responsible for handling your financial affairs so be sure it’s someone who is familiar with your situation and someone you trust.
  • Select a primary beneficiary of your estate, typically a spouse. You may also want to write down an alternate beneficiary in the event that the primary beneficiary passes on before or at the same time as you.
  • Decide what property you’d like to give to specific beneficiaries. In addition to friends and family, beneficiaries can also include charities, companies and other organizations.
  • If you have young children, designate a guardian for them. If you’d like, specify how you’d like them to be raised and financially cared for in your absence.
  • Take inventory of your assets. This includes real estate property, possessions, retirement savings, and insurance policies – anything that contributes to the value of your estate.
Talk to a local lawyer

Now that you’ve brought together the important pieces of information you’ll need, it’s time to meet with a lawyer.

Although a lawyer is not always required to write a will, a legal professional possesses the experience and expert knowledge needed to ensure that all legal requirements of your will are met, and that the right wording is used to carry out your wishes properly. Better yet, consulting with a lawyer in your city or town ensures that your will is in compliance with local laws and regulations.

It's a good idea to review your will every few years, together with your lawyer, to ensure that it continues to reflect any changes to your life situation.