Everyone should make a will, especially if you have children (or even pets) who’ll need a guardian or assets you want to pass on to your family.
However, most Americans have not written a will or created an estate plan. And if you don’t clearly document your wishes, the state you live in will decide for you.
Creating a will or an estate plan doesn’t have to be difficult, though. Use the following tips to help you get started.
1. Decide who gets what.
For many people, the most difficult part of executing a will is determining who will get what and how much of it. Three children would typically receive equal shares of an estate, but if one of the children has special needs, a different distribution may be needed. Similar considerations may arise with grandchildren and stepchildren.
2. Review the living will.
Different from a last will and testament, a living will is a written statement often accompanying a health care proxy (i.e., health care power of attorney) that details your wishes about end-of-life care if you’re in a terminal condition expected to result in death.
3. Choose an executor.
The choice of an executor of a will to carry out the terms is another important consideration. Many people choose a spouse or a child to assume this role. Make sure the person you choose is dependable, because executors are responsible for many important tasks, including paying bills and taxes on the estate, making needed court appearances and maintaining the property until the estate is settled. If the estate is complicated, the executor may want to consider hiring an attorney to sift through potential issues.
4. When in doubt, get a lawyer.
If you have a particularly large or complicated estate, you may want to have your will drafted by an attorney. But you can still use online tools such as FreeWill.com to help you get started. At the end of your will-making process, there’s a set of documented wishes to bring to an attorney that may speed up the process. There’s also a tool to help you find qualified attorneys near you.
The easiest way to avoid issues for your loved ones during a difficult time is to create a last will and testament — and to keep it updated as life changes. Another way you can help protect your family’s future is with a life insurance policy. Find out about the different life insurance coverage options today.