Let’s have a frank conversation.

Most people know a will is important, but many of us put off the responsibility of actually writing one.

And while it may seem like a will won’t be needed for a while, taking care of it now is an act of kindness for your loved ones – saving them time, money and potential conflict, should the unexpected happen.

Need help getting started? We’ve gathered a few pointers below:

  1. Seek the help of an attorney. Keep in mind a will that’s not properly constructed can easily be contested. An attorney can help you avoid this.
  2. Know the laws of your state. If you write the will yourself, you’ll need to do your homework, as estate laws differ in every state.
  3. Clearly define your beneficiaries. Include full legal names, addresses and social security numbers to make sure the right people inherit the right things.
  4. Remember the law typically favors the current spouse. If you want others to inherit, including children from a prior relationship or extended family, make it clear in the will.
  5. Appoint the executor. This is not the time to worry about hurt feelings. Choose an executor with a history of financial responsibility and someone you trust to be honest and fair.
  6. Determine if and how the executor will be paid. The role of executor is tedious and time consuming. Often, a small percentage of the estate is appropriate compensation.
  7. Specify who gets family heirlooms or items of tangible value. This is often written out in a separate letter kept with the will. Making these decisions yourself can help avoid conflict between your beneficiaries.
  8. Appoint a guardian for minor children. If you have young children, consider who you trust to raise them in a manner that reflects your values. And establish a children’s trust to ensure their guardian has access to all necessary child-rearing funds and that your children inherit according to your wishes.
  9. Select witnesses and have them sign in front of a notary. Keep in mind that beneficiaries should not be witnesses.
  10. Place the will in a safe place and alert the executor of its location. If a will is not located and recorded, your wishes may not be followed.
  11. Update your will periodically. Has your estate grown? Have you married or divorced? Had a child? Has your executor pre-deceased you? Many issues can change how you want your estate handled, and your will should reflect those changes.

Ultimately, a will is a critical step to safeguarding your family’s future, but when you want even more peace of mind about it, talk to an agent about your life insurance options.