It might be the word "estate" that puts people off from taking this important action, but no one needs to be intimidated by the word or the creation of a will. You don't have to be a millionaire to need a will; everyone who has property and debts needs one. Failing to make out a will could have your loved ones facing a mess, so read on for some more good reasons to stop putting this important task off any longer.
Do you have children? If so, you must have a will. In it, you can designate a trusted and beloved friend or relative to care for your children after your death (if you are single). Caution: if you fail to take care of this issue before your death, these important and life-changing decisions will be made by the government. Since the government (the state, actually) doesn't know you and your family personally, you are taking a chance by not making arrangements ahead of time.
Not all states give domestic partners custody rights for partners who pass away, so use the will to state your wishes for their care. Additionally, for you can leave a sum of money to a caretaker to oversee your child's welfare. This money can be placed in a trust and meted out as needed. This is a particularly important task for those with children who have special needs.
Do you own a home? For most, real estate makes up the biggest part of their estate. When it comes to estate planning, however, real estate is just the beginning. The best course of action is too get comfortable with a notebook and pen (or your electronic pad of choice) and make a list of your belongings; from your cars to your jewelry. Include bank, retirement and investment accounts, real estate, vehicles, artwork, furniture, stocks and bonds, collectibles and more.
You may be surprised at the length of your list when complete. This will get you started on deciding who to leave what to. It's worth mentioning that your beloved family dog, cat or other pets also belong on that list, right after the family silver. It will probably feel odd to list your pet as property, but the state and probate look upon animals as just that, property. This gives you an opportunity to think about who you want to leave your pet to.
Be considerate of your loved ones. A death, whether shocking and unexpected or completely expected, will cause an upheaval with your family and close friends. With a will, you can take away a lot of stress and confusion during that delicate time right afterward, and help send your family some guideposts on getting through the funeral and burial. You may also consider taking this a step further by arranging and paying for your final arrangements ahead of time. This will make those first few days easier for your family and ensure that you have the final say in your burial and funeral plans.
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