The gift of a will

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2016 | Injuries

According to an AARP poll, 40 percent of Americans over the age of 45 do not have a will. Reasons the forty percent supply for the delay include balking at the thought of contemplating their mortality or struggling with filing paperwork on their own. While it may be a time-consuming and emotionally-draining activity, drafting a will is a task adults should complete to reduce anxiety for both themselves and their beneficiaries. Visiting an estate planner can help individuals to navigate a path through the labyrinth that appears when determining inheritance, beneficiaries and executors.

Before attending a meeting with a lawyer, however, it’s helpful to prepare. If you are unsure of the information that your attorney will request, here are three questions to answer that will help you get ready for your appointment:

1. What are your assets?

In addition to the assets people readily recognize, such as a home or jewelry, you should realize that digital property is valuable. If you have an online business through the EBay or Etsy websites, you need to determine what will happen to your business in the event of your passing. Another category of assets to consider is the biological one. If you and your spouse stored frozen embryos during IVF treatments, your plan for those embryos will need to be documented. In contrast to the previous examples provided, most insurance policies and retirement accounts are not included as assets in the will because beneficiaries are required to be identified on the forms when the accounts are created.

2. Whose name appears on property titles?

In the event that you and your spouse do not hold all property jointly, it is recommended that separate wills are made. While both wills may look similar when they are drafted, each document will acknowledge the possessions owned by each spouse. If you and your spouse die at different times, the respective will specifically covers the assets of the deceased.

3. Have you designated guardians and trustees?

If you have children, you will want to designate caregivers responsible for raising them. To limit temptation for the guardian to misappropriate funds set aside for the beneficiaries, money that you will bequeath your children should be monitored by a separate individual. Known as a trustee, this person is responsible for managing the assets of the estate. If you have adult children who will not need guardians to supervise them, you may want to locate a financial advisor to help them manage the assets they stand to inherit.

If you can take the time to determine the answers to these questions before you visit your estate planner, you can make efficient use of your meeting. While it may be uncomfortable to consider life on earth after your passing, consider this document a gift promotes peace of mind for both you and your relatives.