Planning For Your Future 101
Creating your will is one of the most important things you can do in planning for your future. A will allows you to continue to control the distribution of most of your assets after you have passed away. But there is a lot more to creating your will than just deciding ‘it’s time’.
Let’s take a minute to talk about the cast of characters that need to get involved in your will. The first and most important is for you to appoint an executor. This is the person you want to settle your estate after you are gone. Note: it does not have to be a family member and sometimes you may be better off picking someone outside of the family.
Appoint your executor wisely! This person is responsible to deal with the Probate Court, paying off your bills, and making sure your final wishes are carried out. Bottom Line: Your executor needs to be someone you trust implicitly.
Your beneficiaries are people or organizations to whom you want your assets distributed to after you die. I recommend that you outline in your will exactly who gets what. The following is a poor example of a stipulation. “I bequeath that my coin collection goes to Aunt Susan and Cousin Joe.” The devil is in the details. You need to be much more specific regarding which portions of the coin collection goes to what beneficiary.
Hot Tip: You really want to use a lawyer to help you finalize and prepare your will. Your lawyer will also be able to identify potential minefields where clarity may be needed. You can save yourself some time and money by preparing a rough outline for your attorney regarding what your desires are beforehand, but use a lawyer to write up your will.
Your will administrator. Trust me; you do not want one of these. An administrator is appointed by the Probate Court to manage the distribution of your assets if you die without a will. It is also called dying intestate. Many people falsely believe that if they die without a will that their assets will simply go to the spouse or the kids. It’s not true. The laws vary from state to state, but the short answer is that some of your assets may go to your spouse, parents, children, or brothers and sisters as determined by the state. DO NOT give up that control over the distribution of your assets that you have worked so hard to accumulate.
Take the time to compile your thoughts and your wishes and do it now!