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How to Make Your Will a Reflection of Your Wishes

Even the simplest wills are filled with confusing legal terminology. Discuss your will requirements with an attorney: Cover the value of your estate and your tax situation, the individuals and institutions you want to leave your estate to, and nursing home concerns — so that your attorney can help you prepare a will that accurately reflects your situation and preferences.

You need to specifically discuss the following items:

  • What your tax exposure situation is based on your estate’s value. Your estate may have to pay federal estate tax and any state estate or inheritance tax if your estate is worth more than the allowance at which taxes are owed. Your will needs to reflect your overall estate planning, including your tax planning, so both you and your attorney need to clearly understand all tax implications to your estate.

  • Who you want to take care of. You can write your will in many different ways to reflect who you want to give what portions of your estate. However, you need to have a general idea of which family members you want to take care of, such as:

    • Your spouse and your children

    • All your children (including adopted children and step-children), but only your children

    • Only some of your children

    • All your children and all your grandchildren

    • All your children and your brothers and sisters

    • Your parents and your brothers and sisters

    • Only two of your four children and all except one of your sisters

  • You also need to decide if you want some part of your estate (or even all your estate) to go to one or more charities, foundations, or other institutions.

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