It's an activity that most of us avoid--sometimes even putting it off until it is too late. Planning for our eventual passing is not something that is high on our list of things to do. But not planning can leave family scrambling after you are gone. One of the kindest things you can do for those you love is take the time to prepare end of life documents such as a health care directive, trust and will.
Most of us are aware that a will is a document that lays out the distribution of assets upon our death. These decisions can be emotionally difficult, and advice and input from an experienced attorney can help guide us is making these decisions.
An even more important decision
There is one particularly important decision to be made in drafting a will--a decision even more important than who gets the family vacation home or grandfather's gold watch: Deciding who will be the executor of your estate. In simple terms: Who will take your will and see that your wishes are followed and your property is distributed as you intended?
AARP, the authoritative magazine for folks over 50, encourages people to choose their executor with logic and without sentiment. After all, this person will be responsible for ensuring that your assets go to the proper heirs. Choosing someone whom you believe is trustworthy is essential, as is choosing someone who is comfortable setting limits. Many a family has been rattled by children who cannot agree on who deserves the family china. Spelling it out in your will, and knowing you have an executor who will honor your wishes, can spare your loved ones time and hassles.
Is it worth consulting an attorney?
Can you choose co-executors, meaning two or more people, to administer your will? You can, but this is something you should discuss with an attorney. While co-executors--for example, both of your children--may function well together, remember that this is an emotional time, and old family issues tend to arise in crisis, so seek legal advice when making any decision regarding end-of-life documents--your family and loved ones' well-being depends on it.