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Your will: It’s Mandatory.

Making a will is critical for everyone. Not having a will is frankly not an option, you know this. It really only takes a few hours, and the three main options I found to get it done are: 1) hiring a lawyer, 2) purchasing an online or software program to guide you, or 3) doing it yourself.

If you have the ability to hire a lawyer and make it easy on yourself, then awesome, but if you can’t or won’t, you can buy state-by-state template or software online for less than 100 dollars. Get familiar with the language and info to prepare with the sample template (note it is my WA State Will). If you choose to do it on your own please do your research. Also, check out Wills 101 on the GYST blog.

Do it now:

Check out Nolo or LegalZoom to research online templates or software like Quicken WillMaker.
Ask friends for legal referrals and/or download the templates as an fyi.

What is a Trust?

Trusts are often set up and included in a Will to make the legal process after you die (probate) faster/cheaper and get your assets more quickly into the hands of who you want to have them. Trusts and probate process vary from state-by-state. Again, Nolo or LegalZoom and others offer them online.

What is in my will?

A state-specific, legally binding ‘who-gets-what’ after you die from guardianship of children/pets to financial assets and your family heirlooms. You also need to designate a Power of Attorney (POA). You can name many different people for different roles (Executive, Financial, Medical, Guardianship), and/or others for oversight. Also, have back-ups. Make sure to clearly specify a Digital Power of Attorney, specific language on this is in the POA template as your digital assets need extra protection.

What happens if I don’t have a will?

Your friends and family will have to spend days or weeks digging through your things to figure it out for you. But it is often not that easy and we’ve all heard the tragic stories: Family relationships destroyed, custody battles, long and confusing probate process, money that should go to survivors eaten away by court battles. Your relatives could easily make decisions you would disagree with, or even much simpler, you always wanted xx to have your yy, but no one knew.

Where do I find a notary public?

Your bank or credit union is a good place to start. It should be able to notarize your will free of charge. Insurance and real estate agencies, some public libraries, most government offices tend to have a notary public available. You can also find notary public practices in your local business listings.

Where do I put my Will?

You should have a copy in a safe location with your other important documents. Also, make sure to give a copy to the person you named as your Power of Attorney, and at least one or two others named in your will to ensure your A-team of people are informed and are able to execute it if needed.