Tip: Let Them Know. Your will may be a good place to outline your funeral wishes. Although heirs are not legally bound to follow your directions, they may be glad to know your preferences.
According to a recent report, only 34% of American’s have a will, which may not be entirely surprising.1 No one wants to be reminded of their own mortality or spend too much time thinking about what might happen once they’re gone.
But a will is an instrument of power. Creating one gives you control over the distribution of your assets. If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property, without regard to your priorities.
A will is a legal document by which an individual or a couple (known as “testator”) identifies their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after death. A will can typically be broken down into four main parts.
Fast Fact: The Difference. Where does the term “Last Will and Testament” come from? Historically, a “will” only provided for the distribution of real estate, while a “testament” dealt with the giving of personal property.
The law does not require that a will be drawn up by a professional, and some people choose to create their own wills at home. But where wills are concerned, there is little room for error. You will not be around when the will is read to correct technical errors or clear up confusion. When you draft a will, consider enlisting the help of a legal, tax, or financial professional who may be able to offer additional insight, especially if you have a large estate or complex family situation.
Preparing for the eventual distribution of your assets may not sound enticing. But remember, a will puts the power in your hands.
You have worked hard to create a legacy for your loved ones. You deserve to decide what becomes of it.
One recent survey noted that, although most people have thought of creating a will, only about one-third have actually done so.
Chart Source: Everplans, September 16, 2015