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    Do You and Your Spouse Have a Will?

    By Kristen Houghton     

    The media circus over Anna Nicole Smith’s estate, her final wishes, and guardianship of her baby girl has brought the subject of wills to the forefront of the news. It reminds us that everyone should have a will, especially married couples.

    No one really likes to discuss wills. After all the idea behind a will is to have your affairs settled and your wishes carried out when you’re no longer around to do so. It is not a pleasant thought. Many couples put off going to their lawyers to make a will because of this frightening idea. This is negative thinking. A will is an essential part of life.

    Making a will can set your mind at rest if only for the knowledge that it is a legally binding document that is difficult to overturn in a court of law. It can guarantee that your wishes are honored and legally safe.

    Husbands and wives should go to their lawyer together. For spouses, making a will safeguards your property and possessions. If there is no will, distribution of your property will be overseen by a probate court. In other words, strangers, not you, will decide the division of your possessions including any and all real estate, jewelry, money, stocks, and bonds.

    If you have minor children, a will is an indispensable part of good parenting. You have the right to appoint the guardian of your choice ensuring that they will be taken care of in the manner, and with the people, you see as best for them.

    Wills of course can, and should, be changed or amended and codicils can be added at any time. A will made in your twenties or thirties needs to be updated as your financial status changes.

    A will also gives you the right to designate an executor, a person who is paid a small fee to settle your estate. Since this includes inventorying, distributing assets, paying taxes and settling debts, some people ask their attorney to be executor. He or she is legally bound to follow your wishes.

    So put aside your feeling that going to your lawyer to make a will is a “death wish.”

    My own lawyer was very practical and blunt on the topic. “People shouldn’t be afraid of making a will. Just because you make a will doesn’t mean you’re going to die any time soon. Think of a will as more like an insurance policy than a death warrant.”

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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