August is National Make-A-Will Month
It’s almost September which means you only have a couple more days to celebrate National Make-A-Will Month. (Yes, seriously. This is a thing.) How does one celebrate such an obscure month? By creating an estate plan! A will is just one of multiple documents in a strong, individualized estate plan. However, it is one of the foundational documents of the entire estate plan.
A will can be a bit more complicated (and longer in page length) than other estate plan documents like Disposition of Personal Property and Power of Attorney for Healthcare. It’s important you work with a lawyer experienced in estate planning to be sure your will covers the three major questions of:
- Who do you want to be the executor of your will? The executor is in charge of carrying out your directions and wishes as expressed in the will. They will also pay any outstanding debts and distribute assets as you express in the document.
- Who do you want to be the legal guardians for your minor children until they’re adults (age 18) if something were happen to you?
- What do you want done with both your tangible and intangible property? (An example of tangible property is your books or your boat. Intangible property includes assets like stocks.)
Why Does a Will Matter?
I cannot reinforce enough that everyone NEEDS a will. Leaving your family and friends without a clearly written will in place can result in worst case scenarios such as litigation or confusion in who is to be the proper guardian of your minor child(ren). Real world examples of this are unfortunately all too common and no one is immune. For instance, Prince died without a will leaving family infighting and conflict.
Without a will the Iowa probate court is forced to name an executor and there is the possibility that the appointed executor is not who you would have chosen. It’s simply better not to gamble with who has control over dispersing your hard earned assets.
If you already have a will (and other necessary estate planning documents) congrats! You’re better off than about half of Americans. Yet, just because you created an estate plan at one point doesn’t mean it automatically adapts to how your life changes.
While estate plans never expire, for your will to be most effective it needs to be reviewed at least annually and updated as needed. Common scenarios for estate plan revisions can be a death in the family, change in marriage status, birth of a child, major changes in financial situation, and moving out of state.
Your estate plan should also be updated if your goals change over time. For example, you may want to alter the amounts of inheritance or increase/decrease charitable bequests.
Where There’s a Will There’s a Way
I would love to help you solidify your family’s future. The best place to start is by filling out my Estate Plan Questionnaire. It’s easy, free, and there’s no obligation. It’s simply a document that gets you thinking and planning. You can also contact me at any time via email (Gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com) or phone 515-371-6077.