I remember when we finished our will. It was a wonderful feeling of freedom. No longer was there something so ominous hanging over my head. No longer did I worry about the state taking over and making my decisions for me. And in simplest form, it was great to cross it off my To-Do list.
And that is what we’re talking about this month in A Simply Organized Life series. Who doesn’t want the feeling of order and organization? An organized life spreads out beyond the closets and cupboards of our house and in this case, it will benefit more than just you.
Why do you need a will? If you die without a will, the state will determine the resting place of all your assets and possessions, including your precious children. A will allows you to choose a guardian, the person who will raise your children as you would like. A will gives you the chance to determine who will be the benefactor of your possessions, who will inherit your house, your jewelry . . . your animals.
As for me, I do not want the state choosing who will raise my children because there is simply no guarantee it will be who I want. And from what I have read, I have also learned that in many states, if you die without a will, your spouse may receive half to one-third of the estate and the rest will be earmarked for your children. You may or may not have access to this money.
So, let’s get things in order!
Getting ready to write your will:
- Write down all your assets and who should inherit. In a will, you can be general or you can be specific. You can determine who will receive all your fabulous serving pieces for entertaining. (Ok, I didn’t do this. But Tara, you’d get it all if I had been specific.)
- Determine who you would like to serve as guardian to your children and ask them.
- Choose an executor (This is the heinous task of managing your estate after you die.)
You can have an attorney draw your will up or you can use an already existing form/book about the subject. A lot may depend on the money you can spend right now, the time you have to read a book or how complicated your estate is. I personally choose to have a lawyer draw it up because I want to be sure it is correct.Writing the will:
- There are many laws governing wills that vary from state to state. Be sure that you are following what is necessary in your state.
- Complete your will. (If you already have a will, you will get off easy this month. And, good job!)
- Along with your will, make sure you have a Living Will (a document that states your preferences about life support) and a Health Care Power of Attorney (someone who will help make any necessary health care decisions in the event you are incapable of making decisions). I know that our hospital makes both forms available.
- Put your will in a safe and accessible place. In addition to keeping a copy in my home, I have given a copy to our executor/guardian and a copy to another family member. Don’t forget to include a copy of the Master Account List you finished from last month.
> > The bottom line is that we never know how much time we have left. We are guaranteed nothing. As a gift to those you leave behind, finish your will and leave things in order.
* Disclosure: I am not an attorney, nor an estate planner. I feel very strongly about the need for a will in this day and age. Because state laws vary, please consult a professional in your state.