Thinking about how your personal property is going to be distributed after you die can be tough to do. But it is one of the most important decisions you can make to help your family when you die, and it is never too early to get started. So let's do just that.
The first step is to take an inventory of your assets. Gather statements from all your bank accounts and anything else of value. Make sure that you think outside the box here; that baseball-card collection in your attic may have value beyond memories.
Once you have a handle on this, think about how you want to divide the assets and to whom you want to give them. This step can be difficult but is important. You should clearly spell out how much you want to leave to each member of your family.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to leave everything to their spouse for him or her to distribute. What if your spouse remarries? Or you have children from another marriage?
Being explicit in your wealth's distribution keeps you in control of who gets what. Also, communicating your wishes to your loved ones while you are still here eliminates surprises and possible heartache in the future.
Now that you know the what and to whom, it's time to make your legal will. You can either use an estate lawyer in your area or, if you think your case will be simple enough, you can use an online service such as legalzoom.com.
One last thing to remember: It's important to understand that a will isn't set in stone. If life throws you a curve, you can always make changes, whether small or large.
Update your will each time there is a major event in your life, whether a new child, a divorce or when you find that autographed Babe Ruth card.