Where there's a Will

The old English proverb “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” came to mind as I was planning this weekly message. Only, I’m thinking of the phrase in a more practical way. Where there’s a will, there’s a document to tell the courts, the public, and your family how you want your final estate to be dealt with.

See what I did there? “Will” like motivation or “will” like the legal document that lays out your final instruction for your worldly goods. But actually both may apply.

By working with a legal professional to write a will, anyone is able to let their family and friends know exactly what should be done with their estate when they are gone. Wills are an easy way to make a specific gift from your estate such as:

            I give and bequeath the sum of $10,000 to _________, my brother.

Gifts can also be specified as a percentage of your entire estate. “What ifs” or contingencies can also be made in case the person you are leaving property to is gone before you. Arrangements can be made to leave “what’s left” to a favorite charity after your loved ones are taken into consideration. In other words, you leave specific gifts to family members and if there are still assets left, those can go to an organization you feel will continue to care for causes you care for in life.

Wills can also specify that certain assets go into a fund that you have set up with your Owen County Community Foundation. You can meet with us and set up all the details of a permanent fund that will carry out your own philanthropic plan for your community and then the will dictates that the assets to come to the OCCF and be put into the fund you’ve already prepared with us. So, you tell us you want to set up the Bill & Mary Smith Education Fund (or whatever you want the fund called) to provide an annual grant to support local educational programs. Then your will is prepared with an instruction to put a certain dollar amount or a percentage of your estate into the Bill & Mary Smith Education Fund. Done.

Wills are an easy way to continue your good life’s work after you are gone. By working with a trusted attorney you can make sure that your estate is handled the way you want it handled and not leave such an important matter to chance.

But what about the other “will?” You’ll need some of that motivation to get yourself moving on the will preparation project. Nearly 60% of Americans do not have this essential document prepared.

How do you find the will to make a will? Try making an appointment with yourself. Put “will” on your calendar and as your appointment draws near, you can be thinking about all the details of how you want your estate distributed. When the calendar date arrives, write down a basic plan for your estate, make a list of major assets, and call an attorney to make an appointment with them.

Remember, if you don’t make a plan for your estate, others will take care of it for you. But “the others” will be the court, not your family and friends. With no will, the state will decide how best to distribute the assets you leave behind. Find the will to make a will.

Your OCCF is glad to help. We have free will kits available upon request that have some pointers and worksheets to help in your estate planning process. Make it a New Year’s resolution to get your will written or brought up to date. Where there’s a will, there’s a will.

If you would like to know more about how you can work with your Owen County Community Foundation to plan a gift using your will, contact us. Give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at mark@owencountycf.org, visit us online at www.owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit us in person at our office on the south side of the Courthouse Square at 60 E. Market Street in Spencer.

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