The Importance of a Will in Financial Planning

By: Ken Mayer

It is human nature to put things off, especially when the subject is planning for when you won’t be around. There’s a huge misconception about estate and will. Some people think they need to be wealthy to have a will, but that’s not true. A will simply states who will get what when you pass away.

Despite the importance of this planning concept, approximately half of all Americans die without a will. This is called intestate, which means a local probate court will appoint an administrator to distribute estates based on state law. The administrator will also designate a guardian for any minors. The court, not you, decides what happens to your assets and children. When people realize the implications of not having control, they want to start talking about a will.

As an advisor , there are steps I encourage you to make sure your overall financial plan is protected. An attorney will draw up a will, and if you don’t have one we can recommend some trusted attorneys in your community.

Outlined below is a five-step plan to get you acclimated to the world of wills.

Step one: You should know what a will does and doesn’t do

By understanding the basics of what a will does or doesn’t do, you’ll identify any voids other forms of estate planning can fill (i.e. life insurance, charitable giving, and trusts).

What a will does for you:

  • States, in detail, where assets go after you die
  • States who the executor is and outlines powers so  he or she can administer the will
  • Designates a guardian for children if there is no surviving parent

What a will doesn’t do for you:

It can’t void the terms of a trust or other financial planning device, like a life insurance policy, with a beneficiary

Step two: You should inventory your assets

Break up assets into two categories: 1) assets you hold as an individual, like savings accounts, stocks, bonds and real estate – typically things that will pass through a will, and 2) assets that have a named beneficiary, like a life insurance policy or annuity.

Step three: You should list desired beneficiaries

You can start with your inventoried assets from step two. Anything you own that you want someone to have needs to be listed. Make sure you state the full name of each beneficiary and the relationship (cousin, uncle, etc.) so the administrator knows exactly who gets what. It’s a good idea to list debtors, too.

Step four: You should name an executor

The executor you name should be trustworthy because the most important job he or she has is to carry out your wishes via the terms of your will. If you don’t name an executor, the court will.

Step five: You should name a guardian for minors

This could be one of the most difficult, emotional decisions to make because people can’t imagine someone else raising their children. But emotions only reiterate the importance of this decision. Make sure you talk in depth to loved ones they want to name as a guardian.

After your will is drawn up, it needs to be executed. Depending on your state’s requirements, you may need to sign in front of witnesses. Store the will in a safe place and tell a family member or trusted friend where to find it. Finally, one important, yet overlooked, reminder: Keep the will current. If anything needs to change, amending a will is easy.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: 239-LIFE-GUY  or  Email@LifeGuy.com

LifeGuy is not an attorney, and this article does not constitute legal advice.
You should contact your attorney to discuss your will.
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Author: LifeGuy

Daniel LifeGuy Dragan has 126 posts in this blog.

Daniel is a dedicated insurance expert with a focus on helping individuals, families and small businesses avoid financial disasters with Life Insurance products, Paycheck Protection (Disability Insurance), Retirement planning, Cancer and Critical Illness Insurance, executive and business protection plans. With his comprehensive knowledge and experience in financial protection, Daniel can help save money as well as get all your insurance premiums returned to you if you didn't use any of the benefits. "Return of Premium" insurance is one of Daniel's strengths and along with his personal approach to his customers' needs, one of the main reasons his clients are referring him to friends, family and business partners. Daniel offers free financial consultations and can be reached by email at Daniel@LifeGuy.com or phone: (239) LIFE-GUY or 239-466-4466

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