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August Was National Make a Will Month, Did You Create Yours?

August each year is designated as “National Make a Will Month.” Unfortunately, the reality is that fewer than half of Americans actually have Wills or other estate planning documents in place. There are many reasons people put off estate planning, despite efforts to raise awareness of the importance of planning for lifetime incapacity and death. In some cases, people avoid it because it’s a morbid topic. It can be morbid, but it’s also practical; the reality is that we are all going to need estate plans eventually.

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In other situations, people put off planning because of a misperception that it is going to be difficult, or simply because they don’t really understand what the process entails. When you work with an experienced estate planning attorney, the process should be fairly straightforward and can be completed relatively quickly. Many people are surprised by how easy it is to complete their Wills, Trusts, and other documents once they commit to starting.

Understanding key components of an estate plan can help you make the process more efficient. The main elements – and decisions you will need to make – include the following:

  • Your wishes for your assets. Think about to whom, and how, you want your personal property, real estate, and financial assets to pass when you die. Should your heirs receive inherited assets outright, or do you want someone to manage the assets for them for a period of time?
  • Who will manage your estate or Trust. Your Will or Trust should name someone to manage the process of winding down your affairs. Consider naming at least one backup, in case your first-named person is unable or is unwilling to serve.
  • Your wishes during periods of incapacity. Estate planning also involves planning for management of your financial affairs during periods of lifetime incapacity, and planning to make sure your wishes related to health care are honored if you are unable to voice those wishes yourself.
  • Your wishes for minor children. If you have one or more minor children, consider who should be named to be legal guardian(s), and who should manage your children’s assets until they reach the age of majority.

Your own estate plan may involve other components not mentioned above. Your attorney will help you identify those items so you can create an estate plan that is tailored to your situation. To learn more about creating a Will or starting your estate plan, contact us today!