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You need a will!

It is difficult to overstate the importance of a will, regardless of the value of your estate. Without a will your assets will pass accordingly to the law of intestate succession, which may be inconsistent with your intent. A will provides for the transfer of money and physical assets to your intended heirs. You may want to give a specific amount of money or specific items of personal property to your spouse or your children. You may want to give part of your estate to your church or a charity. Parents of young children should have a will naming a guardian in the event of death of both parents. You can set up a trust within your will to provide for children or other heirs after your death. Business owners should make their will consistent with the organizational documents of the business. A family business may be paralyzed if it’s owner dies without provisions for continuation of the business and transfer of ownership at death.

For those who already have a will, it should be reviewed periodically and updated based on any changed circumstances.

Along with a will it is advisable to have a power of attorney that will allow your spouse or another trusted family member to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity. An advance medical directive is another tool that will assist your family and your doctors if you face a serious medical issue that prevents you from communicating your wishes.

Don’t put off preparing a will and related estate planning documents. Do it before you face a crisis.

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Andrew Lingle