Critter Corner: August Is National Make-A-Will Month!

Dear Raider,

I read somewhere that August is National Make-A-Will Month. My wife and I are thinking about doing our estate planning soon but feel like we should be more prepared prior to getting started. What do you suggest I get in order before we get the process going to simplify things? 

Thanks for your help!

Will Munth

Dear Will,

You are correct — August is National Make a Will Month. And, it’s the perfect time to be reminded of the importance of drafting or updating your estate planning documents to ensure that your final wishes are fulfilled as you intended.

Many Americans never get around to drafting estate planning documents, citing excuses that they simply didn’t have time, never got around to it, or disliked the idea of preparing in advance for their death. Another common misconception is that unless you’re wealthy, you do not need to plan — but that’s simply not true. Please read today’s Ask the Expert article for more details on common excuses and why estate planning documents are important for anyone! 

Thankfully, getting your affairs in order does not need to be a lengthy project. Here are a few things to do that will help make the process easier. When you are ready, be sure to make an appointment at the Farr Law Firm to get started!

  • Make a list of valuable items: To start, go through your home inside and outside, and make a list of all valuable items. Examples include the home itself, televisions and computers, jewelry, collectibles, vehicles, art and antiques, lawn equipment, and power tools. Don’t forget possessions of mainly sentimental value, like family pictures. Make a note of possessions you want to donate to a favorite charity.
  • Add your financial assets and entitlements to the list, with enough specifics that they can be claimed by your heirs. This includes bank and brokerage accounts, 401(k) plans, IRAs, life insurance policies, and any other policies such as long-term care, homeowners, auto, disability, and health insurance. Include the account numbers and specify the location of any physical documents you have in your possession. List contact information for the firms holding these non-physical possessions.
  • Make a separate list for all of your open credit cards and other obligations. This could include auto loans, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and any other debts or open lines of credit you have. Note the account numbers, the location of signed agreements, and the contact information of the companies holding the debt. Include all your credit cards, noting which ones you use regularly and which ones are sitting in a drawer unused.
  • If you belong to any organizations such as AARP, a veterans’ association, a professional accreditation association, or a college alumni group, make a list of them.
    • In some cases, these organizations may offer accidental life insurance benefits (at no cost) for their members, and your beneficiaries may be eligible to collect.
  • Include any other charitable organizations that you support. You can let your beneficiaries know which charitable organizations or causes are close to your heart and to which you might like donations to go in your memory.
  • Make a note of any automatic donations you make regularly to a charitable organization so that your heirs can cancel them or take them on.
  • If you have a list of your passwords, indicate where that list can be found. If you don’t, be sure to make one using KeePass or LastPass to simplify managing your online assets for your loved ones. 

Once your estate planning documents are in order, be sure to review them for updates at least once every three to five years and after any major life-changing events such a marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. Life is constantly changing, and your assets and wishes are likely to change from year to year, too. 

Please contact the Farr Law Firm for more information and to make an appointment!

Hope this is helpful!


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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