Did you know that August is “National Make a Will Month”? It’s the perfect time to be reminded of the importance of drafting or updating your will to ensure your final wishes are executed as you intended.
Despite the importance of having a will, many Americans never get around to drafting it, citing that they simply didn’t have time, never got around to it, or disliked the idea of preparing for their death. Another common misconception is that unless you’re wealthy, you do not need a will—but that’s furthest from the truth.
An individual’s wealth and assets may determine how lengthy or in-depth a will or estate planning may be, but it certainly does not dictate the need. Every family, regardless of their wealth should have a will because of the peace of mind and ease that it can bring upon the person’s passing. If there is no will, things have a tendency of getting complicated quickly—leading to the state’s involvement, possible family feuds and ultimately a delay in settlements.
Thankfully, getting your affairs in order, does not need to be a lengthy or costly project. Here are a few tips to help you get started with ensuring your final wishes are executed correctly:
- Make a list of all of your assets, including investments, properties, bank accounts and personal property such as art, jewelry and other valuables.
- Review all of your beneficiary designations of your life insurance, investment and retirement accounts. For example, you still may have an ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary—if you do not change it, they may inherit these funds. If you own an account with a beneficiary and pass away, the funds go directly to the beneficiary, regardless of what any other document, such as a will or trust, may say.
- If you already have a will in place, be sure to review it every couple of years, updating it with any new assets, and making any necessary change to your wishes.
- At the same time you review your plans, also review the executors that you put in place to execute it, making sure that you still trust the designee and that they are still willing to complete the task.
- If you haven’t yet made a will or considered your estate plans, now is the time! Connect with a lawyer or use a free or cost-effective online tool.
- Lastly, consider whether or not you would like to include a charitable organization in your final plans like your will and/or as beneficiary of your accounts. When designating a charity as a beneficiary, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario. You can always decide to leave any percentage you please to a charity or even to multiple charities. For example, you can leave 75% of your life insurance policy to your sister and the remaining 25% to NFCR.