Are Your Last Wishes Known?

last will and testamentEvery adult should have a last will and testament regardless of your age.

During your lifetime, you most likely will accumulate more than you ever expected, and that is why a will is essential so that you can direct the disposal of your assets according to your wishes.

When it comes to your last wishes, there are more than assets to consider. What about your children or an aging relative? Who will take care of them after your death? Only a properly executed will or trust will allow you to make provisions for your loved ones.

Here are some helpful suggestions:

Hire a lawyer to draft your last will and testament.

There are many do-it-yourself kits or forms that allow you to write a will yourself. However, if you make just one mistake, your will may be later found invalid. A competent and knowledgeable lawyer knows what is necessary to draft a will that is valid in your state.

Have witnesses.

In most states, you need witnesses for your will to be valid. It is best to have someone who is not receiving a bequest from you to serve as a witness.

Use percentages instead of dollar amounts.

Because the amount of money to be divided amongst heirs may be significantly lower or higher at the time of death, it is better to use percentages rather than specific dollar amounts for bequests.

Review your last will and testament yearly.

You may want to change some bequests, especially if the tax laws change or if there is a change in your family situation. If you move to another state, review and, if necessary, revise your will. Some states are common-law states (assets are owned by the person who purchased them) and some are community property states (assets acquired during marriage are jointly owned). Make sure you check the laws of the state to which you are moving to determine if you need to revise your will.

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