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Your will is a very important document. It is too important to be left to a few notes on a piece of paper. Your will reflects your wishes. Instead of the courts appointing an administrator (personal representative), someone you select will handle your desires.
A will makes provision for family members in a way that state statutes cannot. Your will lets you disburse money to your children and grandchildren in an orderly and prolonged manner, and in a manner which might reduce any potential taxes.
Your will can also identify the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc. or other charities to receive special bequests. In short, your will allocates your assets according to your desires.
Here are several points to consider regarding your will:
First, your will needs to be legally valid. We recommend that you see an attorney who specializes in estate planning. They know the right questions to ask and the best way to accomplish your goals. Don't be tempted to take a short cut and use one of those will kits that you can buy over the counter or as a program for your computer. You might even think about just sitting down and writing out your will on a piece of paper, a sort of do-it-yourself project. But don't fall into those traps. After all, why write a will and then spend the rest of your life wondering whether it is truly valid?
Second, make sure your will is up-to-date. Life never stays the same. Within a few years new estate laws may arise, family members may develop different needs, or the composition of your estate may change. As many attorneys say, "An out-of-date will could be as harmful as having no will at all." Remember, your will can be amended. It is not set in concrete. You can change it easily, either by adding a codicil or by simply having it redrafted. The important thing is to have a workable will in place.
Third, make sure your will is safely stored. Keep a copy of your will in your files at home, but keep the original in a bank safety deposit box. You don't want to lose this important document through fire or theft. Make sure that your personal representative and your family know how to find your will and that you identify one of them as a deputy of the lock box on the authorization card.
Your will can provide you with peace of mind. You can have a sense of well being about those matters, an inner calmness. It may take a little time and effort and it costs a few dollars, but it is well worth it all.
If you are making a bequest to a charity like the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc., it is important to use the full legal name of the organization. This will avoid confusion and possible delays during probate. Be as clear as you can. If you are making a bequest for a specific purpose, spell out your wishes so the recipient will know exactly what you intend. Charitable organizations usually prefer unrestricted bequests since this allows the board of directors/trustees to apply the gift where it is needed most. The establishment of an endowment at the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc. in your planning is also a good way of insuring the flexibility you may want as part of your estate.
To help you and your attorney, samples of will or bequest language including the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc. are included in the examples below. If you have questions about how the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc. might help meet your estate planning needs, you can contact us at (765) 454-7298, or email us.
"I give, devise, and bequeath to the Community Foundation of Howard County, the sum of _________ Dollars ($____________)."
"I give, devise, and bequeath to the Community Foundation of Howard County, an amount equal to _____________ percent (_______%) of the value of my estate at the time of my death."
"I give, devise, and bequeath all of the residue of my estate, both real and personal, to the Community Foundation of Howard County."
"If the above named beneficiaries should predecease me, then I hereby give and bequeath all of my property and estate to the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc."
"I give and bequeath _______________ [describe bequest] to the Community Foundation of Howard County, Inc. (the "Foundation") for its charitable purposes as defined in and subject to the provisions of the Foundation's Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws as they exist on this date or as they may hereafter be amended (the "Governing Instruments")."
To indicate a name and purpose of the fund to be established by the bequest, choose (a), (b), (c), or (d):
"This bequest shall be used to create a component fund to be known as the ___________________ Fund. This Fund shall be used for such of the Foundation's charitable purposes as the Foundation's Board may from time to time determine."
"This bequest shall be used to create a component fund to be known as the __________________ Fund. It is my/our desire that distributions from this Fund be used for the support of _______________ [name particular charitable purpose]."
"This bequest shall be used to create a component fund to be known as the __________________ Fund. It is my/our desire that distributions from this Fund be used for the support of _______________ [insert name of particular charitable agency or agencies to be supported] for the purpose of _________________ [describe particular purpose, if any]."
"This bequest shall be used to create a component fund to be known as the __________________ Fund. Distributions may be recommended and made from the Fund subject to the approval of the Community Foundation of Howard County Board, Inc. (the "Board") for charitable purposes consistent with those specified in the Governing Instruments as the Board may determine after taking into consideration any suggestions from time to time made to the Foundation by _______________. It is understood that no successor advisors shall be named by the designated advisors listed above."
All assets of the Fund shall be assets of the Foundation and not a separate trust. The Fund shall be held and administered subject to the provisions of the Governing Instruments, including those provisions that may permit the Foundation's Board to amend, modify or vary any of the purposes, directions, restrictions or conditions set forth herein.
To be included with options (c) and (d):
It is agreed that ________% of the distributions from the Fund may be used for such of the Foundation's charitable purposes as the Foundation's Board, in its discretion, may determine.
These examples are for demonstration purposes. Be sure to consult with your professional advisor for guidance relevant to your situation.
Have you already remembered us in your will? If so, let us know and we will list you in our Legacy Society!