Day 19 of the Legacy Notebook Series
You knew this was coming. There’s no way we’re going to go through a legacy series without me ranting about the importance of having a will. I have written about it before, but everyone needs a will. Okay, it’s just the grown-ups that need one, but you know what I mean. None of us are getting out of here alive and we need an exit strategy to help those who are left to deal with our stuff. For many of us, a will is the simplest approach. For others, a revocable living trust may be a better fit. My point is, you need to have a [legal, written] way to let people know what happens to your stuff.
As is the case for many people, we didn’t even contemplate creating wills until we had kids. Well, technically we were still gestating a tiny human and had zero clue what was in store, but the impending arrival spurred us into action. We met with an attorney who asked us a bunch of questions we couldn’t answer and left the appointment with some homework to complete. Once we had contemplated our answers, we went back for a second meeting and finalized the details. It was a much more straightforward process than I had imagined. Too many movies, I guess.
For those with kids, the hardest part of drawing up a will is often choosing a guardian. This can be a difficult topic to discuss if you and your spouse have differing viewpoints on who may or may not be a suitable guardian. Talk about it anyway! It is important stuff and you will feel so much better once you have the plan in place.
Keep in mind, you can always modify your will as time passes and situations change. Remembering that helped me get comfortable making some decisions that I was agonizing over when we were doing our homework. Thinking of our choices as a starting point made a big difference and helped us get across the finish line.
We haven’t personally gone the revocable living trusts route yet, but they are a really helpful option for avoiding probate, if you are willing to invest the time and energy to establish and maintain a living trust. I assure you, my family’s most recent experiences with the probate process have motivated me to learn more about ways to avoid probate. Ugh – there is just nothing fun or efficient about the probate process [and a bunch of stuff that is illogical at best].
Today’s Action Items:
- Add your will to your notebook. If you don’t have a will, go get one. Today.
- If you have a will but need to update it, make an appointment to get it done [and off your list].
- If you have a living trust, add these docs to your notebook.
thanks for reading,
P.S. Looking for the rest of the series? You can find it here.
Stronger Wallet’s Legacy Notebook series information is intentionally general in nature and covers typical scenarios. You may have special circumstances that need to be considered. Always consult a trusted advisor before making big decisions about your financial legacy. Feel free to send me questions along the way at lesley[at]strongerwallet.com.
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The guide includes everything you need to get started: a cover sheet and divider pages to set up your notebook, an overview of each topic, checklists, worksheets, and writing prompts to guide you through the process.