Thinking of updating your wills? Or maybe you have never taken the time to make a will in the first place! This is a task that is often put off until later, but doesn’t have to feel overwhelming if you handle it in an organized way.
Planning together is easier
It is best to do this together if at all possible. In a few situations, you may plan your wills at different times. Maybe you want to have a will and your spouse refuses to consider it. Perhaps one of you needs a will a.s.a.p due to surgery, illness, travel or dangerous occupation and the other wants to think about it. In those cases, one spouse may go ahead and get their will finished first, rather than not at all.
But, in general, it makes it easier for a couple to work on this together. There is the opportunity to review assets, debts, and wishes. There is the chance for a heart-to-heart talk about what is important to each of you.
You need two wills
You will need to have two wills, not one joint will.
Understand the differences, but don’t worry about them
Sometimes the result of the planning turns out to be two mirror-image documents. Both wills have exactly the same terms. The couple may agree on everything, and each wants everything handled exactly the same way. That is fine.
But, sometimes the two wills are very different from each other. Some reasons are; stepfamily situations, different property owned by each, choice of different executor or trustee or different specific bequests.
When you review your document before you sign it, don’t worry if your wills are not exactly the same. Just make sure that each document states each of your wishes correctly. Once you have confirmed that, it is usually helpful for the two of you to compare your wills to understand and discuss any differences.
If you have minor children, do consider what would happen if both of you were to die at the same time. We hope that never happens, but it could. So, you may want to agree on the guardian of the children.
Of first importance
Make sure that any minor children are taken care of.
If one or both of you is responsible for the care or guardianship of a disabled person, this should be considered when you make your estate plans.
Talk about what would happen to family pets or farm animals, and discuss provisions for their care.
Make sure that the surviving spouse has the ability to survive financially, access accounts, and live in the home.
If there is a family business involved, consider how that will be affected and what needs to be done.
Bit by bit
I don’t know how many people have told me, “This has been on my to-do list forever! What a relief!”
When “Get Wills Done” is an item on a to-do list, it can be intimidating. It has the aura of an endless project, with no good place to start.
But, there is good news! We can break it down into manageable bite sized bits! We can help you do it, start to finish, as we have been doing for clients for years.
How to start
Check out our home page, to see our information for the current month. (we are regularly giving free consults, for example). Contact us for a consultation appointment. You will be given the information that you need to go from there.