Financial Education

Planning Ahead: Willful Thinking

In our last blog, we wrote about some of the technical and legal aspects of creating a will. Now let’s address the more personal side: your life, family, and stuff, and who will take care of it.

You’ll need to ask yourself (and your spouse—if you’re married, this is a good joint exercise) some questions, do a life inventory, and think about who you really trust.

Here are some specific things you will need to consider when preparing to write a will:

Who will be the executor (also known as personal representative) of your will?

This should be a person who you trust implicitly, and who you know will follow your wishes. Whomever you choose, you will need to explain the role to them and ask whether they are willing to take on such a responsibility. This is no small matter.

If you have minor children, who will be their guardian?

Naturally, this is of the utmost importance, and imparts a huge responsibility on the person named. You will also want to name someone you trust to manage the property you leave to your minor children (often a different person than the guardian).

Who will be your beneficiaries?

Be sure to have all of their personal information (correct names, addresses, and how they are related to you). You might want to consider including alternate beneficiaries, in case any primary beneficiary predeceases you. You may have special property or heirlooms you wish to give to loved ones – make sure to include these.

Make a list of all property

Your list should include real (land and permanent improvements), personal (cars, bank and investment accounts, jewelry, furniture, etc.), and separate spousal property (gifted or inherited, acquired before marriage, and the like). Try to estimate values, in case tax planning may be necessary.

If you do have a will…

Make sure you review it at least every five (5) years, or whenever you experience a life-changing event, such as:

  • Change in residence
  • Death of a spouse or close family member
  • Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, etc.
  • Adoption
  • Birth of a child or grandchild

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start. Your Stockman Wealth Management CFP® can answer many of your questions and help make the process a smooth one. As a caveat, we are not attorneys and we don’t draft documents, but we can certainly advise you on your options, offer recommendations, and lay the groundwork to reduce costs.