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Wills 101

Summary

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A Will is a legal document which controls what happens to your property, and property in which you have an interest, after your death.

Regardless of your health, wealth, or marital status, it is important to have a challenge-resistant, legally valid, up-to-date Will. If you don't have a will, your assets will pass according to what the state decides your wishes are.

It is possible to write a will yourself, without the help of a lawyer. However, if you do, it is advisable to at least have a lawyer review it and oversee the execution to be sure it is done in accordance with the law of the state in which you reside. You won't be here to fix any misteakes.

After writing a will, store it in a safe place that is readily accessible. Check the will periodically to be sure it is up-to-date. Consider telling your heirs what is in your will. Experience indicates that telling your heirs about your intentions can eliminate problems afterward and help assure that your wishes will be carried out.  

If you already have a Will, review it to see whether it needs to be updated.

The other sections of this article cover the following frequently asked-about subjects:

For information about when people can expect to receive their inheritance, click here. 

NOTE: In addition to a Will, it is advisable to:

  • Write a list of "who-gets-'what", and to update it at least once a year.  A list of "who-gets-what" covers the items that don't have a lot of monetary value but may be immense sentimental or historical value. Without such a list, items you think of as valuable may end up in the trash or at the local thrift store, or even end up with the wrong person.
  • Write a List of Instructions which gives people practical information in case you become incapacitated or die. For example, the List tells people where your property is located, and how to maintain it.
  • Make sure your pets are taken care of if you don't specifically include them in your Will.
  • If no one will be living in your home immediately after you die, ask a trusted person to look after the property while it is vacant. Empty houses invite vandalism. Damage from a storm or leak which isn't taken care of can be devastating. Don't rely solely on Homeowners Insurance.
  • Be sure that someone knows where you store your passwords for your computer, mobile devices, online accounts etc. You can store your passwords online through such services as Legacy Locker offsite linkand Planned Departure offsite link

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