A new year! It's that time of year when people start thinking about how to improve the next 365 days. Weight loss goals are not uncommon resolutions, though we often fail to last more than a few weeks. Other common resolutions include travel, paying off debts, or spending more time with family. Here's an option you may not have considered, though:
How about a will or a trust?
A will or a trust can be a long-time positive for your family, and, unlike exercise, it doesn't need to be difficult. Wills and trusts direct how your assets are to be distributed after death. This is an important task to take care of, because if you do not leave instructions the courts will decide what happens to your estate.
Even though this is an important part of good financial management, a recent survey by legal web site, NOLO, found that only 54% of people have bothered to even make a will. The main reason why they haven't? Just too busy.
We encourage you to re-think this important step in your estate planning. A will or trust can help your family a lot. For example, a will can:
- Assign who gets what, helping head off disputes and bad feelings.
- Puts somebody you trust in charge as executor.
- Names a guardian for any children under 18.
These are important things to do, and can make a lifetime of difference to a family in case of an unexpected death.
Making a will is easier than you think.
Creating a will is one of the most simple legal matters you can do. In fact, it's so easy that, if your estate is fairly simple and your wishes straightforward, you can make your own will.
If you write your will in your own handwriting and include a date and signature, it's called a "holographic will." In the state of Nevada, such a will is legal and binding. If you can't do it in your own handwriting, (for example, if you wanted to have your will typewritten, as most people do) you must have two witnesses also sign the document. (Note: those two witnesses must be "disinterested," meaning they can have no benefit or inheritance coming from the will.)
For very simple situations such as wishing to give all the assets to a single family member, a do-it-yourself will might be a great fit.
Getting a trust is easy and important.
For more complicated situations, it's important to get a trust made. For example, if you have a beneficiary but you want to only give the assets over time, or hold the assets for a certain purpose such as education, it's essential that you set up a trust.
A trust gives you much greater control over what happens to your estate. It can deal with much more complicated legal challenges, and can help avoid inheritance taxes. However, setting up a trust will almost certainly involve sitting down with an estate planning lawyer. You don't want to leave something so important to chance.
An estate planning lawyer can help you analyze your needs and goals, and figure out what kind of trust is going to be the very best fit for your situation. Once the trust is set up, it doesn't take much to keep it updated as circumstances change in the future. The time it takes to meet with a lawyer will pay off in the long run in the time it saves and the confusion it prevents.
Go ahead and start that new exercise program. It's important to take care of your future health. But take care of the future of your estate, too.