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How creating a will helps secure your family’s future
Many people know in the back of their mind that they need to make a will—but it’s one of those “to-dos” that can feel distant or upsetting, and wind up getting lost in the bustle of everyday life. But once you carve out the time to get it done, you’ll be relieved that you’ve taken steps to ensure your loved ones are taken care of.
When you really sit down to make your will, you may want the advice of a seasoned estate planning professional. For now, here are a few considerations that can get you started.
Name your legal guardians
Who should care for your children if you and your partner weren’t there? Whether you have an instant answer or you’d have to think about it, the fact is that until you’ve gone through the process of evaluating and naming your child’s legal guardians, you’re leaving things to chance. You’ll need to talk to your guardians to make sure they are capable of stepping up. And you’ll need to ask practical questions to make sure you’ve got the right person. Again, this can be tough, but give yourself credit: you’re doing the work now to create peace of mind later.
In considering the best legal guardian for your children, you’ll want to consider factors like age, finances, location (would your children have to move, and if so, how far?), and current parental status (would adding more children to their family be too much?).
After coming up with both a first choice and a backup, let your choices know about your decision and get their thoughts. And remember, it’s possible to name a guardian to physically look after your children, as well as someone separate to look after their finances.
Make sure your wills and beneficiaries match
Now is the time to check how your state handles beneficiaries on individual accounts as opposed to those listed in your will. For example, in New York, any beneficiaries listed directly on your accounts—a retirement or savings account, for example—supersede those listed in your will. So, make a note to check in on your listed beneficiaries in both your will and your individual accounts every year to ensure everything matches. If not, make the necessary changes soon.
Make a plan for each of your keepsakes
It’s important to make sure your monetary assets are handled appropriately after you’re gone, but life is bigger than balance statements. It can be comforting to know that your most valuable or sentimental possessions will make it into the right hands.
Set aside some time to go from room to room in your house, taking photos of items you may want to put in your will, and a list of who should receive each.
Don’t forget your online presence
Your social media accounts, email, and professional portfolio all make up a record of you, and you get to decide who holds the keys to that record. You’ll want to list your professional and personal sites in your will to leave them with someone you can trust to handle them properly.
Keep up the updates
Creating a will is not nearly as daunting as it seems and the relief of knowing you’ve done everything you can to take care of your family is well worth the investment of time.
Just keep in mind that a good will changes as you do—it’s important to continue to revisit and update things as life goes on and major milestones occur.
Once it’s done you can move onto the next challenge life presents, while knowing you've done all that is necessary to ensure your loved ones are taken care of.
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