Do you have a will? If not, then it's time to get serious about putting one in place.
Experts say that virtually everyone with anything of value should have a will—a legal document in which you say how your money,property and other assets should be distributed after you die. Having a proper will in place can help you accomplish a lot of things that may be important to you.
For instance, you can:
• Say how much of your estate you'd like to leave to your family and your favorite charities or causes.
• Name a legal guardian if you have minor children.
• Set up a trust fund for your children to inherit when they reach a certain age.
Another reason to have a will: If you die without one, a court-appointed administrator will distribute your estate according to local laws.
Where to start?
When creating a will, it's often a good idea to consult with an attorney rather than write one on your own. Your will must comply with state law, which could require that it contain certain language or a certain number of signatures, for instance. In addition, many states do not recognize homemade wills.
An attorney can help ensure that your will is legally binding so that your wishes will be carried out. This step could save your loved ones a lot of difficulty should questions or concerns arise regarding how your estate is to be distributed.
In your will, you'll also need to choose one or more executors to handle affairs regarding your estate after you die. This could be a trusted friend or family member or a professional, such as a bank or an attorney with legal and estate planning expertise.
It's important to keep your will in a safe place, such as where you store other important documents. You should also make sure that a relative, friend or other trusted person knows where to find your will, though you don't need to reveal what's in it.
It's also a good idea to review your will from time to time and to keep it up-to-date.
Sources: AARP; U.S. Office of Personnel Management