Estate planning may not come to mind when you think about money, but a Will should be part of your financial plan. In a way, a Will lets you manage your money and assets after you pass; it’s a way to take care of your family and friends even after your death.
In addition to facilitating the distribution of assets, a Will can also determine legal guardianship of children and name friends and charities along with family as beneficiaries of your estate. Without a Will, these decisions will be left to the probate court, and there is no guarantee that their decisions will provide the type of care and resources for your family that you had intended.
We believe everyone should have a Will. If you are interested in making a Will, be sure to have the following information.
Names of Guardians for young children
Without a Will, a probate court will appoint a guardian for your children. While they might have good intentions, they have no way of knowing what is best for them. By naming guardians (and alternate guardians) in a Will, you can ensure that your children are cared for by the people you trust most.
Beneficiaries and Bequests
Without a Will, ownership of your property will be determined in a probate court. With a Will, you can bequeath specific assets to specific beneficiaries, or name a person or group of people owners of all of your assets.
Have the names and up-to-date contact information of the people to whom you would like to leave assets with. Be sure to include any ministries or charities that you would like to support – if you do not leave a charity anything in your will, they are guaranteed to get nothing from your estate. Many people give their most significant financial gifts through a Will.
Your Executor (and Successor Executor)
The executor of a Will is in charge of the management and distribution of an estate. Your executor should be someone you trust, and someone who can handle the responsibilities (legal and otherwise). A successor executor should also be named should the first executor not be able to perform the duty for any reason.
You can learn more about choosing an executor on our website. [link to “Choosing Your Executor” on CTC website]
List of Assets and Liabilities
Create a list of personal assets. Include checking and other financial accounts; investments; pension and retirement account information; real estate information; life insurance; and collectibles. Also note the ownership details of the assets. For example: are you the sole owner of your checking account or a joint holder?
Also make a list of your liabilities: mortgages; student, auto, and other loans; and credit card balances.
Your Funeral Arrangements
You can help those who survive you by clearly stating your funeral wishes. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Would you like a funeral, memorial service, or something else? Do you have any special instructions?