Why it’s important to have a will

People are often uncomfortable when they think about end-of-life issues, so they put off making a will. Some individuals never make one at all because they prefer to focus on living from day to day rather than contemplate the future

Why is it important to have a will? For one thing, it is a vital document in the whole estate planning process. It clarifies and formalizes someone’s wishes about how they want their assets to be dealt with after they die. In addition, a will names an executor who is responsible for tying up loose ends on behalf of the deceased person. That could entail settling the person’s debts and submitting their income taxes.

Failure to make a will can have significant consequences. There might be red tape, arguments among family members and applicable state laws (known as intestacy laws) that determine to whom a person’s assets are given. If the person has children, the state can decide who the children’s legal guardian(s) will be.

If you want to prepare a will, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Steer clear of writing your will using do-your-own-will websites. Even if you think your estate is fairly simple, laws governing wills can be different from state to state.
  • Make a list of your financial assets — bank accounts, stocks and retirement funds, for example. Think outside the box, too — even unused frozen embryos from fertility treatments can count as assets.
  • Property owned jointly with a spouse goes to the surviving wife or husband unless it’s only in one spouse’s name. In that case, it gets handled in that person’s will.
  • A will should specify children’s legal guardians. It should also name their trustee — a different person designated to manage their assets.
  • Certain types of assets, like IRAs and annuities, aren’t probated. The owners of such assets name beneficiaries who will get them in what is called a beneficiary designation document.

An attorney who is experienced in estate planning can offer guidance about writing a will according to Nevada laws.

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