The Importance of a Last Will and Testament

Author: Christina Bach, MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Last Reviewed: February 12, 2018

Many think only people near death need a Last Will and Testament (will).  But this could not be further from the truth. Anyone who wants to make plans for what will happen to their property, finances, children, and even pets in the event of their death should create a will.

The will is the foundation of a good estate plan. You want to be of “sound mind” when you write your will. Some illnesses can cause problems with thinking, orientation and cognition, so it’s important to write your will long before a medical crisis. You do not want to die without a will.  This is called “intestate." It can create conflict amongst family as well as lengthen the process of settling your estate. You can make changes to your will at any time.

In your will, you will designate an “executor.” This person is responsible for following the guidelines you set forth in your will and settling your final affairs. This person also arranges the transfer of all of your estate (property, assets) to the people you want it to go to, called your designated beneficiaries.  A will also allows you to take standby guardianship one step further in that you can designate who will have custody of your child(ren) should there not be another parent/person who would automatically assume custody. It is best to consult with an experienced lawyer to help you draft your will. Each state has different rules about what makes a will valid.

No one wants to think about after death planning, but it is a key element to making sure your wishes are known and followed. If something unexpected happens where you cannot communicate or you have died, there is no way to complete a will at that time.  Make writing your will a priority as you organize your important documents. It will give you peace of mind and provide your family with a strong foundation to follow your wishes for after your death.

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