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For families of people who don’t have a will, dealing with their estate is an expensive, stressful and time-consuming experience. A will isn’t anything to be afraid of, says the Herald Journal in the article “It’s Halloween, do you have a will?” Here’s a list of things not to do that should be useful for anyone who doesn’t have a will yet.
Don’t procrastinate. You can keep on waiting until there’s a better time, but life has a way of happening while we’re waiting. Now is the time to do your will. For your sake, and your family’s sake, don’t put it off any longer.
This is not a do-it-yourself project. No matter how simple you think your estate is, it isn’t. A form that you download from a website may not be legal in your state. Nothing can replace the sense of security that sitting down with an experienced estate planning attorney can give to you and your family. You’ll know that your will is legally valid in your state, follows all the right steps and was created for your unique situation.
An estate plan requires more than a will. There are many other documents and strategies to consider. Chances are that you already have more than a few other accounts to consider, like an insurance policy, investment accounts and jointly owned accounts. For an estate plan to protect you and your family, you’ll need a power of attorney, health care power of attorney, a living will and possibly a trust. A qualified attorney will help you coordinate all of your assets and make sure everything is properly prepared.
Don’t set it and forget it. Your life changes, and so should your estate plan. There have been some large changes to the tax law in recent years, and a number of bills are now pending in Congress that may bring even bigger changes in 2020. Your family may have celebrated a marriage, welcomed a new child or experienced a loss. All of these issues require updates to your estate plan.
Don’t hide your will and estate planning documents. Having all of these documents prepared properly is step one. The next step is to make sure that your family members know where the documents have been stored and how to access them. They should not be in a safe deposit box, as those are usually sealed upon the death of the owner. If you don’t own a waterproof, fireproof safe, consider purchasing one. Then tell a trusted family member where it is.
If charitable giving is part of your life, make it part of your legacy. Making a charitable gift as part of your estate plan can be helpful in reducing your estate taxes. It also sends a positive message about philanthropy to your family.
Make an appointment with an estate planning attorney to create your will, establish protection for yourself and your spouse in case of incapacity and create a legacy.
A will is a start but not a complete estate plan.
Reference: Herald Journal (October 26, 2019) “It’s Halloween, do you have a will?”