Only one-third of adults have a Will in place, which may not be entirely surprising. No one wants to be reminded of their mortality or spend too much time thinking about what might happen once they’re gone.1
But a Will is an instrument of power. Creating one gives you control over the distribution of your assets. If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property without regard to your priorities.
A Will is a legal document by which an individual or a couple (known as “testator”) identifies their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after death. A will can typically be broken down into four main parts.
1. Executors - Most Wills begin by naming an executor. Executors are responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in a Will. This involves assessing the estate's value, gathering the assets, paying inheritance tax and other debts (if necessary), and distributing assets among beneficiaries. It’s recommended that you name at least two executors in case your first choice cannot fulfill the obligation.
2. Guardians - A Will allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children. Whomever you appoint, you will want to make sure beforehand that the individual is able and willing to assume the responsibility. For many people, this is the most crucial part of a will since if you die without naming a guardian; the court will decide who takes care of your children.
3. Gifts - This section enables you to identify people or organizations to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as jewelry or a car. You can also specify conditional gifts, such as a sum of money to a young daughter, but only when she reaches a certain age.
4. Estate - Your estate encompasses everything you own, including real property, financial investments, cash, and personal possessions. Once you have identified specific gifts you would like to distribute, you can apportion the rest of your estate in equal shares among your heirs or split it into percentages. For example, you may give 45 percent to two children and 10 percent to a sibling.
The law does not require a Will to be drawn up by a professional, and some people choose to create their wills at home. But where Wills are concerned, they leave little room for error. You will not be around when the Will is read to correct technical errors or clear up confusion. When you draft a Will, consider enlisting the help of an Estate Planning Professional, and keep your RMR advisor informed as they can provide guidance and insight.
Preparing for the eventual distribution of your assets may not sound enticing. But remember, a Will puts the power in your hands. You have worked hard to create a legacy for your loved ones. You deserve to decide what becomes of it.
1. Caring.com, 2021
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