Creating a will
Take time for this important step
“When was the last time you updated your will?” This is a question I ask clients who come to me for financial planning advice.
I often hear one of two answers:
1. “It’s been a while …”
2. “We’ve been meaning to, but …”
You might identify with one of these responses. Maybe you wrote your will when you were first married or when your children were babies. But now, those kids are approaching adulthood or are out of the house and much has changed.
Or maybe you’ve been thinking about setting up your will for the first time, but life or cost has gotten in the way. Taking time to thoughtfully write out your will – or review your existing will – is one of the most important financial steps you can take. And if you have minor children, a court could make guardianship and care decisions if you don’t have a will. A judge’s ruling may not match your wishes.
Even if you have no young children, your will is a vital tool for spelling out distribution of possessions and final charitable wishes. Even in the closest families, disputes can break relation- ships when people argue over over who gets what. It happens far more often than you might think, and usually over items of relatively little monetary value.
A final word: I always advise clients to hire an estate planning attorney to help write their wills and other critical estate planning documents. A qualified attorney can help you think through difficult decisions and help ensure that what’s written matches your wishes. Don’t allow cost – or the busyness of life – to get in the way of this important act of stewardship.
R. Michael Burton, CFP®, is an Everence Financial Advisor in California and Alaska.