August is national make-a-will month
August marks national make-a-will month, an annual reminder of the importance of drafting or updating your will to ensure your final wishes are executed as you intend.
Despite the importance of having a will, nearly two-thirds of American adults don’t take the time to create one, citing busy schedules, lack of wealth or assets to distribute, or dislike of the idea of thinking about one’s mortality. However, all adults – particularly those with children – should have a will. Why?
- It’s necessary. No matter what your “estate” includes, everyone needs a plan. Having a legal will in place is a powerful way to steward your resources and protect yourself and your loved ones.
- It’s your legacy. Your will is your opportunity to define your legacy on your own terms and create a lasting impact through the causes that are important to you.
- Wills aren’t just for the rich and famous. They make life (and death) easier for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
- If you die without a valid will, you risk having very personal questions settled by a third party administrator, usually appointed by a probate court.
Luckily, getting your affairs in order does not need to be a lengthy or costly task. Here are a few tips from the National Foundation for Cancer Research on how to get started:
- Make a list of all of your assets, including investments, properties, bank accounts and personal property such as art, jewelry and other valuables.
- Review all of your beneficiary designations of your life insurance, investment and retirement accounts. For example, you still may have an ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary—if you do not change it, they may inherit these funds. If you own an account with a beneficiary and pass away, the funds go directly to the beneficiary, regardless of what any other document, such as a will or trust, may say.
- If you already have a will in place, be sure to review it every couple of years, updating it with any new assets, and making any necessary change to your wishes.
- At the same time you review your plans, also review the executors that you put in place to execute it, making sure that you still trust the designee and that they are still willing to complete the task.
- Lastly, consider whether or not you would like to include a charitable organization in your final plans like your will and/or as beneficiary of your accounts. When designating a charity as a beneficiary, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario. You can always decide to leave any percentage you please to a charity or even to multiple charities.
Read more related articles here:
Also, read one of our previous Blogs here:
Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.
Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.