Having a will is not just for the wealthy but for anyone with assets to pass on to loved ones. The specific details of a will depend on the individual since different people have different assets and different people have different goals after they pass away. A will is a legal document, and it is vital to be familiar with the laws of your state.
As you approach retirement, you may be thinking about the legacy you want to leave behind. This can be both a fun and a daunting task. While everyone’s wishes will be different, we have a few basic wishes for our families. For example, you may want your family to keep living in your home, and you may want your children to be able to attend the college you never quite finished. Take time to identify what these wishes are, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. These wishes will likely be discussed at length with your spouse, but if you have young children, write or type them down so your wishes can be shared with them in a way they can understand.
• Don’t do it yourself
You have been saving up for decades, now is the time to relax and enjoy it. When you retire, you will need to do two things: make sure you can get by for the rest of your life without needing to work again, and make sure that you can leave your money to your loved ones when you pass away.
Now, you might be asking why you should go through all the hassle of hiring a professional when you could just do it yourself. Well, that’s not the best way to go about it. For example, if you have to take care of your taxes, it is good to get help from a financial advisor.
• Pick the trustee to be your guardian
If you are thinking about naming someone as guardian of your children or as a trustee to your estate, you want to get things right. You want to make sure that you can choose the person you wish to under the circumstances you expect. Here are some things you should think about when you are making decisions about guardians and trustees. Update: Also, see our article selecting a guardian for your children or selecting a trustee for your estate.
• Beneficiary of the override wills
Although a will is important, don’t forget about beneficiary designations. While a last will and testament are intended to dictate how your assets are distributed after your death, they can be altered or overturned. Beneficiary designations are used to determine who will receive your assets if you pass away and a will is not in place. Beneficiary designations are also used to designate a person or organization to receive assets other than insurance and securities, including life insurance proceeds, retirement benefits, and other assets. The designation will be effective only if you have not named anyone else in your will to receive the assets.
• Identifying your assets
Most people identify their assets as their homes, cars, investments, and income. While these are all important, a more comprehensive list of your assets would also include all your bills and debts, including credit card debt, checking account, IRA, mortgage, and auto loan payments, not to mention the values of your tangible assets.
When you have developed a list of your assets, it is time to identify specific people and people group your assets should be left to when you pass on. This can be done within your own family, between family members, and between friends; it can also be done for the benefit of the community, such as through a charity or for a specific group of people such as a race, religion, or profession.
Without a will, the distribution of your assets may be determined by state law. If a will exists, there is still a good chance that the distribution of your assets may not be what you wanted. The most common problem with a will is the failure to consider all the people involved. In most families, there are more people than just the spouse and children.