Could there be a huge conflict looming in your family? We’re sorry to mention it but that’s what could happen if you’re one of the millions of Americans who haven’t made a will or a directive for your care if you become incapacitated.
We know of several cases where this has happened and, as a valued client, we want to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Maybe you think it’s complicated and expensive to draw up a will and so you keep putting it off. Please don’t do that any longer – but don’t rush into it either.
Here’s what to do:
- Spend some time thinking about the way you want your money and property to be shared.
- If you decide not to share it equally, consider explaining this to your beneficiaries so there are no misunderstandings.
- Consider if you want charities, or other causes you support, to benefit.
- Think about other special bequests of family heirlooms or other personal items that could result in family squabbles if they’re not specifically mentioned.
- Make a rough draft of your ideas. You don’t need to use legal jargon. If you feel uncertain about issues talk them through with someone you trust.
- Decide who you want to “execute” your will, to carry out your wishes. This could be a family member you trust, or you could use a bank or an attorney.
- If your will is likely to be straightforward you can use software or online will writing services, which could cost you anything from a few dollars to a couple hundred dollars.
- Otherwise, consult an attorney. If you don’t have one, get recommendations from family or friends. Costs depend on the complexity of the will. A simple one might cost around $200 but a more complex one could run to around $1,000.
- If your estate is likely to be sizeable, talk to an attorney or financial adviser about creating a “living trust” that takes ownership of your estate and avoids some taxation issues.
A living trust is not the same as a living will, a document that says how you want to be treated and who will make decisions for you if you can’t make decisions for yourself.
Look at living will samples online and weigh the issues they raise. We found a great summary from Mayo Clinic.
Sorting these things out may sound like a real chore but, believe us, you will be saving a lot of anguish for others by doing it.
By the way, if you already have a will, please remember to review it regularly, to take into account any changes in your life and relationships – and make sure others know where it is.
And if you think we can help in any way, perhaps by discussing the life insurance aspect of your estate, don’t hesitate to get in touch.