Financial Focus: Basics of creating a will


Wills are one of the most important and complex parts of estate planning.

Estates may seem like a lot of effort, but a trusted financial professional and an estate planning attorney can eliminate a lot of stress and many potential mistakes from the planning process.

Estate planning is a complex endeavor, and one of the key ingredients to a successful estate plan is a will.

Your will simply spells out in legal terms who will receive various parts of your estate, including savings, homes and other assets. By specifically listing each asset and what person or charity it will be distributed to, you make your wishes crystal clear. This can reduce much of the court and government involvement in your estate.

Every will has several basic components. One of the first and most important elements is designating someone to administer the will. Will administrators are given different titles including: executor, administrator and personal representative.

Your administrator has the important task of carrying out your wishes and handling the legal and financial aspects of your estate. Administrators must take inventory of your estate, make sure all remaining financial obligations have been met and physically distribute the estate’s contents as spelled out in the will. This job is a challenging and time-consuming task, and you should choose someone with some level of financial experience whom you trust.

A will is also the tool used when deciding who should become the guardian of your children if you pass away while they’re still minors. Typically, if you leave property to the children, you must also appoint a guardian for that property.

One interesting part of the will process is highlighted by state laws. In many states, a will must leave a certain percentage of the estate to the spouse. Thus, if for some reason you write your will leaving everything to your children or grandchildren, your spouse can challenge it and receive his or her percentage guaranteed by law.

No one likes talking about their own demise, but as we all know, it’s going to happen someday.

So why not be financially and legally prepared for it? Taking the time to properly plan your estate, and more specifically, your will, can reduce the chances of legal struggles that may potentially drag on for years. Such prolonged processes can bring stress to heirs and diminish your life’s work. While estate planning may be arduous at times, it helps ensure that you’ll be remembered for who you were in life, not “who gets what” in death. But remember, wills are complex; it’s important to seek professional help.

Phil Anderson is the owner of Financial Services of Winona. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and can be reached at 507-454-2355.

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. Financial Services of Winona and the Securities America Companies are independently owned.

Written by Securities America for distribution by Phillip L. Anderson.


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