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Preparing your will

About 70% of adult American do not have wills. Taking time to prepare a will means protecting family, property, and finances.

Making it legal : a guide to same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships & civil unions
Frederick C. Hertz with Emily Doskow.
Berkeley, Calif. : Nolo, 2011.
Both Hertz and Doskow have significant experience as attorneys working with and assisting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. This text, now in its second edition, serves as a reference book for same-sex couples--and the professionals assisting them--on the state of laws across the United States governing gay marriage, domestic partnerships, and civil unions. The subject matter is not limited to the law however, as the text also touches on the emotional and philosophical questions of marriage and finding a lifelong partner. Ten chapters cover topics ranging from whether to create a prenuptial agreement to estate planning for same-sex couples. A useful set of appendices includes an updated chart of the different forms of relationship recognition in each of the 50 states, a list of legal, financial, and personal resources for those interested in same-sex marriage, and a multiple-choice marriage license test designed to test readers' knowledge of the legal consequences of marriage. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
     
Your digital afterlife : when Facebook, Flickr and Twitter are your estate, what's your legacy?
[Evan Carroll and John Romano ; foreword by Omar L. Gallaga].
Berkeley, CA : New Riders ; [London] : Pearson Education [distributor], c2011.
This guide helps readers secure assets like family photos, home movies, and personal letters stored digitally, for loved ones and posterity. They describe how digital technology affects people during life and death, the risks involved and how to avoid them, a process for securing assets that includes creating an inventory and making instructions, and making a plan to leave digital assets behind. Carroll, a designer and researcher, and Romano, an interaction designer and technology researcher, founded an online resource that explores death and digital legacy and research and speak on securing digital assets for posterity. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
     
Good to go : a guide to preparing for the end of life
by Jo Myers.
New York, N.Y. : Sterling Pub., c2010.
Are you good to go?
     
Living trusts for everyone : why a will is not the way to avoid probate, protect heirs, and settle estates
by Ronald Farrington Sharp.
New York : Allworth Press, c2010.
Ronald Sharp explains trusts in clear and easy-to-understand language, including one truth that most lawyers don't want to admit: A trust is often better than a will and less costly! Wills benefit lawyers. Trusts benefit families. Without all of the technical jargon included in most law books, Living Trusts for Everyone highlights the benefits of trusts and how to avoid unnecessary legal expenses. Readers will find information on:
     
J.K. Lasser's new rules for estate and tax planning
by Stewart H. Welch, Harold Apolinsky, Craig M. Stephens.
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2010.
A complete guide to planning an estate under today's tax rulesWhen it comes to your estate-no matter how big or small it may be-you shouldn't leave anything to chance. Proper planning is necessary to protect both your assets and your heirs. Experts Stewart Welch III, Harold Apolinsky, and Craig Stephens know this better than anyone else, and in the Third Edition of J.K. Lasser's New Rules for Estate and Tax Planning, they offer valuable advice and solid strategies to help you plan your estate under today's tax rules. Packed with up-to-the-minute facts, this practical resource covers essential issues; including how new legislation will impact inheritances and trusts, the do's and don't of gifting, retirement planning, and much more. Reflects the most recent changes in tax laws as applicable to estate taxation Offers useful planning with regard to trusts, charitable contributions, life insurance, and wills Outlines the best ways to preserve your wealth through proper planning strategiesFilled with in-depth insights and expert advice, this book will show you how to efficiently arrange your estate today so that you can leave more to those you care about tomorrow.
     
The 101 biggest estate planning mistakes
Herbert E Nass.
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, c2010.
Trust and estate lawyer to the stars Herbert Nass offers essential guidance on setting up an estate plan and avoiding many of the common pitfalls
     

Common myths about wills

Myth 1: Only the rich need a will

Not True: States differ on amount of distribution that goes to spouse and children when there is no will. A will assures distribution in accordance with your wishes

Myth 2: We dont have any dependents so do not need a will

Not True: People without wills are likely to find that distribution is made in a manner defined by law that does not cover friends or charities

Myth 3: I am too young to need a will

Not True: Accidents happen and a will can ease the sudden loss of one or both parents with young children

Myth 4:  I have a living trust so I don't need a will

Not True:  Certain provisions can only be addressed in a will

Myth 5: All our property is in joint ownership

Not True: It is likely that not all retirement and insurance benefits are in joint ownership

A will can:

  • Determine to whom and where assets will be distributed
  • Name a person to manage the estate according to your wishes
  • Create trusts to provide income for family and friends
  • Reduce estate taxes

There is no better time to prepare a will than nowdont put it off until tomorrow:

  • Make a list of all property and its valuedont forget retirement and insurance benefits
  • Decide who should get the property
  • Choose an executor to carry out your instructions
  • Select a guardian for minor children
  • Consider health care directives (living wills)

Other suggestions:

  • Contact an attorney or professional advisor yes, you can do it yourself but the will must meet legal requirements. If it does not, the will may be invalid
  • Put the will in a safe place -- be sure others know where it is kept
  • Review the will periodically to be sure it continues to reflect your wishes and any changes in the law

Preparing a will provides each of us the opportunity to distribute the rewards of a lifetime of work in accordance with our wishes.

By planning ahead you can create the provisions that are right for you and your family.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff