by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA
I facilitated a workshop at a conference last week, on the topic of wills 200 men and women attended my session. Considering how many attendees the conference had, which was over 5,000, I was shocked to see how few took an interest in estate planning. Shocked and concerned, actually. Why? Because everyone needs a will – if not for their own peace of mind, then to make things easier for their heirs during a time that is tough enough as it is.
Put simply, just like a prenup details what should be done with a couple’s assets in case of a divorce, a will outlines how your assets should be distributed after you die. And just like state laws take over when divorced couples do not have a prenup, you get stuck with a universal will if you do not bother to write your own. This means the state will decide who in your family gets what, often putting your spouse in a less-than-pretty situation.
So what should your will cover? Basically, it needs to state what should be done with your property when you die. It also needs a statement at the end containing your explanation that it is indeed your will, your signature, date and place of the signing, along with witnesses’ signatures and statements from them that they really did sign your will, in your presence, and watched each other sign.
We highly recommend that you work with a estate lawyer to write a will. But you do need to be at least eighteen years old, and in a sane state of mind.