A Will (or, more formally, a “Last Will and Testament”) accomplishes many things. First and most obvious, it provides for the distribution of your assets upon your death. All of the property you worked hard to accumulate during your life has to go somewhere; you want to decide who the beneficiaries are, not the government. These gifts will surely be more appreciated by the recipients if they know you took the time to mention them by name. A Will is the document that lets you make these intentions clear.
Second, your Will appoints an executor to oversee the distribution process. This is a demanding role, requiring reliability, organization and attention to detail. You’ll want someone you can trust to be fair in distributing your property, as well as efficient in moving the process forward. Not everyone is up to the task. Making a good decision for Executor and naming that person in your Will goes a long way in the efficient settling of your estate.
Third, your Will provides a backup for a Trust. Even if your situation requires more complex estate planning, a Will is almost always part of the plan. It funnels assets into the trust and provides a safety net for any assets that might have been overlooked when the trust was funded.
Fourth, you can provide for charitable gifts through your Will. This is an excellent opportunity to give back and help an organization working to improve the community. Most charitable organizations are extremely grateful for any assistance provided. Help support a cause you believe in through a gift in your Will.
Finally, and most importantly for parents, your Will appoints a guardian for any minor children. Your intended guardians might know you want them for the role, but does the rest of your family know? And your spouse’s family? Losing parents can be the most stressful time of a child’s life. Watching family members fight over their care is no way to transition after a traumatic event. Ease their grief and prevent family tension by making it clear whom you want to provide for your children’s care if you’re gone.
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