Do You Have the Will?

Cover of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Congratulations! You’re on target for all those New Year’s resolutions. You’re eating better and getting more exercise…you’re volunteering more and doing a random act of kindness every day…you’re taking in stray animals and have begun re-reading the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

So how about taking on one more important task, something that will make it easier for your loved ones after you die and help you leave the legacy you want? And unlike most of your other to-dos, this task has a hard deadline but you don’t know when it is.

Do you have a will? More than half of American adults do not have any estate planning documents, yet most financial planners advise it is one of your most important first steps in planning end of life issues. Your will tells everyone, especially loved ones, what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die. If you don’t leave a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on – and this might not be in line with your wishes.

If you don’t write a will everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law – which isn’t always the way you might want. A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind. Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family or charities you care about.

The first step is to ask yourself what you want to leave and what impact you want to make with your assets. Discuss your plan with your family, and trusted advisors like an attorney, accountant or financial planner. When you are clear on what you want to accomplish, take the next step – put it in writing.

If your will is straightforward you may be able to do it yourself with on line resources such as www.freewill.com. If your plans are more complex you might find it useful to work with a professional. Whatever you decide to do, make the decision and take action. And then you’ll have even more time to take in those stray animals.

When you are creating your plan and have questions about including UUC in your will, please contact Planned Giving Chair, Ken Mundt, at kenmundt@msn.com or 206-325-5067.