People have lots of reasons for not having a will. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
• I don’t want to think about death.
• Only rich people need wills.
• My family will divide things when I’m gone.
• I don’t own enough property to warrant a will.
• I can’t afford a will.
• I don’t have an attorney.
• I’m too young.
You can probably think of other reasons, as well. The point is that these are only excuses. None of them are really valid for putting off one of the most important things you will ever do. It is the cornerstone of protection.
Every adult, regardless of your age, needs a will, if for no other reason than to make sure that whatever assets you have go where you want them to go. Otherwise, the state of Indiana will decide what and to whom your assets will go. If you have children and you fail to make a will, the courts will appoint a guardian who may not be the person you would choose. A will also makes life easier on your loved ones. Proper estate planning can reduce the expense of administering your estate, which means your beneficiaries will get more of your estate.
In your will you can specify not only how much, but also what specific property will pass to your intended beneficiaries and what property will be used to pay taxes and costs. Do you have a beloved keepsake that you want your children or grandchildren to have? If so, then you need to have a will.
You can use a will to leave a legacy for future generations. It can serve to express your desires, ideals and lifelong concern with the needs of others. For example, if you annually supported the needs of the Jewish community, you might want to perpetuate that support. It can be a lasting expression of your life. You can achieve this through a gift in your will or living trust or by naming the Federation or its agencies a beneficiary of your life insurance, retirement plan, savings or brokerage account. By doing this you receive benefits—personal satisfaction of knowing that your caring and concern for the Jewish community will continue and a charitable tax deduction that reduces your taxable estate.
A will can benefit you, your loved ones and your Jewish community. The Federation Endowment staff is available to help you with any questions you might have about your lasting Jewish legacy.
--Winnie Goldblatt, Endowment Director