The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Make out a will to make your wishes known

  • My grandmother had an old bowl that all the grandkids loved to eat soup out of.

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  • My grandmother had an old bowl that all the grandkids loved to eat soup out of. It wasn’t fancy or nice china. On the bottom of the bowl was a little boy on a horse. I was told if I wanted dessert I had to eat till I could see that little boy. That bowl was the only thing of my grandmother’s that I wanted when she died. So did I get it? NO. You know why I didn’t?
    My grandmother never wrote it down or included it in her will. So where is that precious bowl now? Who knows? My cousin probably got it and put it in a garage sale!
    Do you have a bowl your grandkids love to eat out of? Favorite dishes your daughter has always loved? A gun your son wishes was his? A favorite charity that pulls your heart strings? Got a disabled child or grandchild you’re raising?
    If so, what arrangements have you made to make certain your wishes are fulfilled at your death? Since you won’t be around to make certain those people get what you want them to have, you need to put it in writing.
    Yes, I know, it’s human nature to put things off, especially planning for what happens after your death. Some people feel they need to be wealthy to have a will, but that’s not true. A will simply spells out whom or what gets your stuff when you die.
    Did you know approximately half of all Americans die without a will! When you die without a will that is called “intestate”. A local probate court will appoint an administrator to distribute your estate based on Arkansas state law.
    The court, not you, decides what happens to your assets. Now, is this really what you want?
    Let’s talk about the basics of what a will does and does not do. A will: 1) states, in detail, where assets go after your death, 2) states who the executor is and outlines powers so he/she can administer your will and 3) designates a guardian for children or grandchildren if there is no surviving guardian (yes, many seniors are caregivers of adult disabled children or grandchildren).
    A will does not change the terms of a trust or other financial planning devices like an insurance policy with a named beneficiary.
    Do you have an inventory of your assets? What a wonderful gift – make an inventory of large, small and treasured assets. Include 1) assets you own individually like savings accounts, stocks, bonds and real estate. These assets will pass through your will. 2) assets that have a named beneficiary like a life insurance policy or annuity. Anything you own that you want someone to have needs to be on your list.
    Page 2 of 2 - Now, make a list of the people you want to have these items. Make sure you include each person’s full name and their relationship to you. This way your executor will know exactly who gets what. You may also want to list your debtors.
    Let’s talk about your executor. This person needs to be trustworthy; their most important job is to carry out your wishes according to the terms of your will. If you don’t have an executor, the court will appoint one!
    If you are the caregiver of an adult disabled child or grandchildren, you need to name a guardian. This can be one of the most emotional, difficult decisions to make. These emotions only emphasis how important this is. Then make sure you talk in depth with the person who you want to be the guardian.
    You must now execute your will or all this has been for nothing. Then keep your will in a safe place and tell a family member or trusted friend where it is. Keep your will current. If there are any changes you want to make, simply amend your will.
    Now, do it. You will feel so much better. Even though I’m not an attorney, always feel free to call 870-523-6771 and say “Caroline, can we talk?”
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