When should you consider writing a will?
Have you written your will? If you don’t have a variety of assets or a lot of money, you may think you don’t need one. The truth is, almost everyone needs a will, and it’s good to go ahead and write one if only to get a mildly unpleasant task out of the way.
Why do you need a will? First, it makes it easier for those you leave behind to carry out your wishes. If you have minor children, this is extremely important, because your will can designate a guardian and prevent your children from being involved in any unfortunate placements or legal tug of wars. If you have assets, like a house or household goods, your will can designate to whom these things should go. Writing a will gives you the option of leaving things to people outside your immediate family, and it may be a way to reduce the inheritance tax your heirs will pay. You can even use your will to specify things like whether you want to be buried or cremated.
You’ll want to name an executor in your will. This can be a trusted friend or relative, an adult child or a spouse. If you have a complicated will, an attorney might be the best choice for an executor. You can use your will to empower your executor to pay your final bills, deal with debt collectors, and take care of any issues you didn’t specify in your will.
It’s not necessary to hire an attorney to prepare a will, though it might be helpful to use an attorney for this purpose if the estate is complex. There are do-it-yourself kits available, however, and it’s fairly simple to draft a legally valid will. The will should be witnessed by someone who is not a beneficiary, to avoid conflict of interest, and kept in a safe place, like a safe deposit box.
If you are helping an aging loved one to get his or her affairs in order, make sure the will has been properly updated. Any major life change necessitates a change in the will, and it’s important to keep up with those changes. While you’re working on the will, it might be a good time to look over other estate planning documents as well, like powers of attorney and advanced health care directives.
It’s a big responsibility to help care for an elderly loved one. From writing a will and making plans for end of life arrangements to the challenges of everyday life, there’s a lot to think about and many decisions to be made. If you reach a point at which you realize you need some extra help, Elder Care Connections has the resources to assist you. We’re a boutique-style agency, committed to helping people find the right care for their loved ones. We pride ourselves on helping you find a caregiver who is not only capable but also compatible with your loved one’s personality. Contact us for an in-home evaluation, or call (914) 368-2075 to learn about all we have to offer.