A feller just never knows when an opportunity for fun may present itself, so imagine my surprise when I called my endodontist to schedule a root canal and they offered an immediate appointment due to a cancellation. I was . . . overjoyed. A root canal – the classic example of one of those things you don’t want to do that but once in a while you just have to endure.
We here at your Owen County Community Foundation often deal with another task that people put in the category of root canal – preparing our last will and testament.
But I found out this week that a root canal doesn’t have to be so terrible. My endodontist was well prepared for the job. My dentist had already described the situation that necessitated the process, so the task was clear. While prepping for the root canal the endodontist and his assistant laid out all of the equipment and materials that they would need. During the procedure, the root canal team communicated constantly on what was needed next.
I walked out of the office an hour after I entered with a tooth that wouldn’t be hurting me anymore. I had to admit, the dreaded root canal had not been that bad. And why? A prepared professional team was equipped with everything they needed to get job done efficiently and correctly.
The same principles can be brought into play in getting your will prepared. You can join with your attorney to be part of the prep team so the process will go smoothly and efficiently. And you’ll feel so much better once you have it done. No need to wake up worrying about whether you’ve got everything lined up for your family in case you’re no longer around.
Before meeting with your attorney about your estate plan, you can do some things to save time and money. Here are four tips:
1. Prepare an inventory of your estate.
Since your estate plan will essentially direct the transfer of your assets at death, you should compile a list of all your holdings and obligations. What do you own? How much is it worth?
Where is it located? How are the various assets owned (jointly, separately, etc.)? List any memberships (country club, time-shares, etc.). What are the beneficiary designations on your
bank, brokerage and retirement accounts and your insurance policies? How much do you owe and to whom?
This will take some time and force you to get all your records in order. But the process will be instructive for you and timesaving when your attorney begins to quiz you about these
things. It's easy to overlook some assets, so be as thorough as possible.
2. Select key people you want to involve.
Who do you want to oversee the probating of your estate (your personal representative)? Who do you want to serve as the trustee of any trusts created by your will? Who do you want to be
the guardians of any minor children you might have? And don't forget about your power-of-attorney and health care documents.
You will need not only primary names, but also back-up names in case your first choices are unable or unwilling to serve. If possible, have two additional names for each position.
Having all of this cared for before visiting your attorney will make things much easier and time-efficient.
3. Decide what to give family members.
This can be one of the most difficult parts of the whole process. Indeed, some people endlessly delay getting a will because this step is either too perplexing or painful.
There are many issues to consider. Too much inheritance may stifle personal initiative and feelings of self-worth. One child may be careless with money, another disciplined. One may have physical needs requiring extra assistance. One may be self-sufficient, another financially strapped. How much is too much? How little is too little?
You might want to discuss this subject with a trusted friend or personal advisor. And remember, with a will you can always change your mind later. The important thing is to at least get a
plan in place for now.
4. Determine your charitable bequests.
Which organization(s) do you want to support with gifts from your estate? Of course, we at your OCCF hope you will include us in your plans. Your estate gift will make a difference and help us continue to help the people of Owen County into the future.
A charitable giving component to your estate plan can have significant meaning to your survivors and communicate your values in a powerful way. It can also help you establish a legacy that will outlive your children and grandchildren.
So, if you need a root canal, go ahead. It’s not that bad if everyone involved is prepared and works together. The same will hold true in preparing your will.
Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value community involvement and charitable spirit. If you would like to know more about how you can plan your will that includes a gift to help your Owen County home, contact us. You can give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us online at owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit us in person at our office at 60 E. Market Street on the south side of the Courthouse Square in Spencer.
Special MYPath Note: Next Friday, August 2nd will be our MYPath First Friday Walk from the YMCA to the MYPath Trail head in Cooper Commons. I will be the program next week. I’ll be talking about long distance backpacking and will demonstrate the equipment and preparation I (as a rank amateur) put into my section hikes on the Appalachian Trail. Join us at the YMCA at 4 p.m. and then join in the approximately 2 miles hike (usually takes about an hour) through town. At Cooper Commons, I will show the pack, hammock sleep system, trail food prep, and all the gear that I need for a five day hike on the AT. There will also be drinks and refreshments for all the walkers.