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None of us are promised tomorrow, yet many of us still live like we’re invincible.
A 2016 Gallup poll shows that 55% of Americans don’t have a will!(1) Making a will should be an essential part of being an adult, whether you’re married with kids or single. Dying without a will in place puts an unnecessary strain on your loved ones. Not only will they be grieving your passing, but they’ll also be dealing with the mess you’ve just left them—potentially for years. Failing to make a will is not just dumb; it’s selfish.
Why Making a Will Is Important
A will serves as a legally binding document that gives you control of what happens and what doesn’t happen to your estate. This is the last gift you will leave your family or loved ones. It makes the management of your assets clear as well as makes the process light-years easier on everyone involved. If you don’t have a will in place when you die, there is no guarantee your wishes will be followed.
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What Does a Will Cover?
When making a will, you decide who stands to inherit your property, finances and investments after you’re gone. A will also finalizes your last charitable gifts. It provides a great opportunity to leave a donation to your church or favorite philanthropic organization.
Additionally, a will makes your wishes known about who you want to take care of your children (if they’re minors) upon your death. You can make sure your kids are raised by the people who you actually want to raise them. If you haven’t made a will, decisions like this can land in the hands of the state.
What Does a Will Not Cover?
Your will won’t cover your retirement funds, such as a 401(k) or an IRA. Those will be transferred to the beneficiary you name in the investment documentation. The same goes for a life insurance policy. This will be paid to the beneficiary you’ve listed within the policy. It’s important to note that just because you’ve left something to someone close to you in your will, that doesn’t mean they will receive your retirement or life insurance benefits—unless you’ve noted it in the proper places.
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How to Make a Will
The easiest and most cost-effective way to go about making a will nowadays is to use an online legal service. Dave recommends USLegalForms.com, which offers state-specific wills created by professional attorneys. All you need to do is fill in your information, and the will is tailored for you.
You can also contact a good estate attorney; however, that will cost a bit more money. Typically, with your attorney, you and your spouse can create mirror-image wills. Everything is pretty much the same in both wills, with the exception of the names. That way, if one of you dies, the surviving spouse will get the entire estate. Keep in mind: when someone does pass away, it’s a wise idea to keep the will and all related papers for seven years.
Create a Legacy Drawer
What’s a legacy drawer, you ask? It’s simply a file drawer that has all the important documents your family would need if something happened to you. This includes your will and estate plans, insurance policies, tax returns, funeral instructions, passwords and more. Okay, it’s not fun—but it’s a necessary step to ensure you’ve protected your loved ones. Dave talks about this in The Legacy Journey class. A membership includes seven biblically based lessons on building wealth and giving as well as a basic will, a DISC assessment, and a wooden keepsake box to store all your important documents.
Regardless of how you do it, making a will is something you need to do—no matter what stage of life you’re in. The truth is, we are all going to die someday, so why not go out in style? This is your final gift to your family. Leave a legacy you want to be remembered by.