“Who Needs a Will?” Ensign, June 2003, 72
Facing our mortality is sometimes a big obstacle, but we should plan for the future. An important part of that planning, depending on our situations, could be to make a will. As a director of financial planning, I know people who resist preparing this important document.
When preparing a will and estate plan, keep in mind that individual circumstances and state laws vary. In some cases, legal assistance may be required. If so, look for an attorney who is experienced with drafting wills and estate planning.
A will is important for several reasons, some of which are:
1. Nominating a guardian for your minor children (younger than 18 in most states) and establishing a trust fund to take care of them.
2. Controlling the distribution of your estate, which is everything you own. Thus, you can clarify which heirs will receive your assets.
3. Reducing estate taxes and probate expenses. Wills can be used to establish certain tax-saving types of trusts to reduce the amount of estate taxes paid. Probate, the legal process of administering a deceased person’s will, is not particularly expensive in most states unless a dispute arises among your heirs. Spelling out your intentions in a carefully drafted will could help or possibly avoid the probate process altogether.
4. Choosing an executor, the person who will carry out the wishes described in your will.
5. Authorizing continuation of a business. If you have a business and choose to have your children run it after your death, grant them permission to do so in your will. Specifying which child or children should minister business dealings helps family unity as it provides organization and an upfront understanding of your intentions.
Update your will whenever you experience life changes such as marriage, divorce, more children, a move, or fluctuating assets.
Because there are different types of wills to meet various circumstances, research what will best meet your needs. Legal fees vary, but you can also begin to educate yourself through information found in public libraries, listings in phone books, and on-line sources, to name a few ideas.
Mark Groesbeck, Kingwood First Ward, Kingwood Texas Stake