Prepare a Will … Protect Your Loved Ones

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We all plan to live to see 99, but sometimes “The best laid plans of mice and men” don’t pan out. (quote by Robert Burns)  They say there are two certainties in life:  death and taxes.  True enough.

Some may subconsciously think that if they draw up a will, the unthinkable may happen, which is silly, of course.  It’s right up there with, “If I visit the doctor, he’ll find something wrong with me.”

To everything there is a season.  (Ecclesiastes 3)

I’m not a financial planner nor do I sell life insurance, but I have seen firsthand the importance of preparing a will and purchasing life insurance.  My mother died suddenly at the young age of 53 without either.  Fortunately, most of  my parent’s accounts were joint, so the financial impact wasn’t as devastating as it could have been.  However, she was the primary breadwinner of the family as my father had retired on disability years before, and her loss presented an unexpected financial burden.  In the months following her death, the four of us children pitched in to assist our grieving father with his heavy financial load.  I’m confident that our devoted mother never intended to create such a hardship on the rest of our family.  She loved us more than anything in this world.  It’s just one of those things that slipped through the cracks of financial planning.

It is my hope that this little reminder to prepare a will and purchase life insurance will help another family avoid unexpected financial strain.  If you have children under 18, it is vital to designate a guardian for them in your will as well.

Every state has different laws regarding having the will notarized or merely signed by two witnesses.  Research the applicable laws in your state.  An awesome resource is:

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-wills/wills-overview.html

Another important document to prepare is a living will, which is an advance directive regarding medical care and life support.  Having this in place lets your family and doctors know of your wishes, and relieves them of making very difficult decisions in the future.

Here’s a link for a plethora of information on wills and estate planning:

http://wills.about.com/od/fiveessentialdocuments/

My husband and I recently updated our will and had it notarized at our bank.  The bank manager came in to speak with us and said how wonderful it was that we were taking care of this.  She mentioned that she and her husband needed to do this as well.  I thought that was ironic since she works in the financial industry.  This just illustrates how very intelligent and well-intentioned folks can overlook this important matter or procrastinate, thinking it’s not urgent.

May I urge you to make this a priority if you haven’t already done so?

Lastly, I would like to suggest establishing a “Legacy Drawer“.  Dave Ramsey talks about it here:

http://www.daveramsey.com/article/legacy-drawer-keep-your-family-prepared/lifeandmoney_relationshipsandmoney/

In a nutshell, it means writing down (or typing up) all pertinent financial information so your spouse or family members will easily be able to access accounts in the event of death.  Often times, one spouse handles the bills, retirement accounts or insurance.  Clearly maintaining account numbers, pin numbers, passwords, etc. in one place will simplify matters immensely for the surviving spouse or other family members.  Of course, it’s a prudent idea to store such documents in a safe.

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy nor for the elderly.  It’s for everyone.  It’s about leaving a legacy from one generation to the next.  About passing down love, hope and blessing to those we hold most dear.

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