A will is a legal document that states who will manage your estate after you die. The person named in your will to manage your estate is called the executor becuase he or she executes your stated wishes. If you have children or dependants under 18, you will need to state who is to become their guardian. You can also state specific belongings that you would like to go to certain people.
Creating a Will
1. Choosing an Executor.
One of the first steps in creating a will is naming an executor. This person will be responsible for handling your affairs after your death. In other words they are in charge of making sure your wishes, as stated in your will, are carried out. An executor has the following responsibilities:
- Dealing with all the paperwork related to your estate.
- Gathering all the assets of your estate.
- Ensuring that all your debts, bills and taxes are paid out of the money in your estate.
- Distributing the remainder of your estate (after payments of debts, bills and taxes) in accordance with your will.
2. Appointing a Guardian.
If you have children under the age of 18, it is important that you appoint them a guardian. If you fail to appoint guardians in your will and both parents die before the children reach 18, the courts will appoint guardians instead. Taking on the role of a guardian can involve some significant expenses and you should consider making arrangements for this in the will as well.
3. Creating a Trust.
A trust is an arrangement in which money, property or other assets are held and managed by the appointed Trustees on behalf of hte named beneficiaries. A trust is typically setup when a person writing a will has children under the age of 18. When setting up a trust, you must also name Trustees who will be responsible for managing the assets in accordance to your will until the children are old enough to take responsibility for them.
Your assets are everything you own, including: houses, land, overseas property, cash, stocks, shares &other investments, jewellery, antiques, household contents and other personal possessions. While you may leave your assets to whomever you wish, whenever possible, you should leave enough to your dependants for them to live on. When considering your dependants, be sure to include not only your children, but also anyone else that depends on you financially. This could include: your partner or spouse, adopted or step-children, anyone else you've been caring for as if they were your child, an elderly or infirm relative. There may also be other (non-dependent) relatives or friends to whom you want to give some small gift. This gift could be a sum of money or a specific object of monetary or sentimental value, either way this also needs to be stated in your will.
5. Keep Your Will in a Safe Place.
You want to make sure your will is stored in a safe place and there are several options for this. Many people think a safe deposit box is the best place. If you choose this route, make sure you are aware of the laws in your state. These laws can vary and you want to make sure your executor can easily access the will. Make sure you also grant the executor the legal authority to take possession of the will upon your death. Another option is to have your attorney hold onto the original; many attorneys will do this either free of charge or for a small fee. When choosing this route, be sure that your executor and beneficiaries are all aware of which attorney you use. If you choose to store it in your home, use a waterproof and fireproof safe. Be sure to tell the exectuor where the document is and also make sure they have the combination to the safe.
6. Update Your Will Regularly.
Anytime you experience a major life event, such as a wedding, divorce, birth or death, you will need to update your will. Updating the beneficiaries of your will helps ensure that your possessions will be properly allocated to your loved ones. Changes in assets also need to be added to or updated on your will. If you move to a new state, you will need to check with an attorney in that state to see what needs to be done to amend your will, as the laws vary from state to state. Keeping your will up-to-date may seem like a tedious process and while it is unnecessary to update it after every single big purchase or event, it is important to go over it on a regular basis to make sure the provision match your current circumstances. Your will is one of the most important legal documents that you sign, and the benefits of keeping it up-to-date far outweigh the periodic inconvenience of the updating process.
Just like with a will, your Lake of the Ozarks life insurance policy needs updated each time a life change occurs. Your life insurance policy and your will go hand in hand; they are both very important factors in making sure your family is taken care of after you're gone. For more information on making sure your family will be okay financially after you're gone, contact your Lake of the Ozarks insurance agent at 573-348-2794 today!
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About the Author: Steve is a double back-flip insurance ninja. He was named Young Insurance Agent of the Year by the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents in 2010 and is a Certified Insurance Counselor. When he is not helping customers, he enjoys community service, Latin dancing with his beautiful wife and going on adventures with his two awesome sons.
Steve Naught, CIC
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Osage Beach, MO 65065
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