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Making a Will

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Next, you'll need to gather information, most importantly, the following:

  • the names, addresses, and birth dates for you, your spouse, your children, the guardian and an alternate guardian, and the executor

  • a list of assets, real estate, cars or boats, savings, investments, life insurance policies, pension and retirements accounts, jewelry, antiques, and other valuables you might have around the house

  • the amounts of all debts, loans, credit card balances

  • copies of any earlier wills you or your spouse might have drafted, as well as trusts, divorce decrees, prenuptial agreements, and any other legal agreements that might have an impact on your will

With a few hours of your own time or a couple of visits and a check made out to your lawyer, you can get all of this information translated into legal documents and have your last will and testament in hand. To be legal, your will must be typewritten or computer generated except in the 25 states that accept hand-written wills. It must announce that it is your will, and it must be signed, dated, and witnessed. Some states also require that your will be notarized.

With all that done, you need to store your will in a fireproof box, filing cabinet, or home safe, or in a safe deposit box that your executor will be able to access after your death. No matter where you store your will, make sure that your executor and one or two other of your nearest and dearest know where to find it. And then, relax. You've made arrangements for the unthinkable and the wildly unlikely. It's not fun, but it is important. It's what responsible parents do, and your baby is lucky to have such a reliable mommy!

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