Denis Doulgeropoulos

Your Financial Professional & Insurance Agent

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If You Don’t Have a Will, You Probably Should

A 2021 Gallup poll found that only 46% of U.S. adults have a will — similar to the results of other Gallup polls over the last 30 years. It’s not surprising that older people are more likely to have a will, as are people with higher incomes.1

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If you want to pass your assets to your heirs with clarity and confidence, making a will is an essential step.

Distribute property. You can leave your property in a will to anyone you wish: a surviving spouse, a child, other relatives, friends, a trust, or a charity. Your will can provide for specific bequests (such as heirlooms, jewelry, furniture, or cash), general bequests (such as a percentage of your property), or a residuary bequest after your other transfers are completed. Generally, it is a good idea to name backup (secondary) beneficiaries.

There are some restrictions on how you can distribute property in a will. The provisions in your will may not limit your spouse’s rights to your property. Additionally, assets for which you have already named a beneficiary pass directly to that person (e.g., life insurance, pension plans, IRAs).

Name an executor for your estate. In a will, you can choose an executor to act as your legal representative after you die. Executors carry out a range of estate settlement tasks, including finding your will, collecting your assets, paying legitimate creditors, paying any estate taxes owed, and distributing any remaining assets to your beneficiaries.


Percentage of Americans who have a will, by age group

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Appoint a guardian for children. A will is the only way for you to specify who you want to be the legal guardian of your minor children if you die. A personal guardian is responsible for the children’s personal welfare, while a property guardian is responsible for managing the children’s assets. They can be the same person or different people. You might want to emphasize the importance of a will for your grandchildren if your children have grown and have children of their own.

Although you can create a will with various software programs, it is generally best to consult an attorney who understands the laws in your state. If you use a software program, make sure it has been updated for your state’s laws, and make sure your heirs and executors have a copy of your will or know where to find it.