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A handwritten will usually doesn't go far enough

When people are scrambling to enjoy the last bit of summer, they might be intending to get around to making or revising their will. In the mean time, they might scribble on a pad of paper who in the family should get certain possession if anything were to happen to them. This might serve as a temporary solution and give some reassurance to people who don't have time for estate planning, but there are a few things with handwritten wills that might cause issues if a person dies.

Many people don't use proper wording when writing their own handwritten will. These wills are generally not witnessed and might not be specific enough for a person's estate. Some estates are complex and proper wording of a will can ensure the right assets go to the correct person.

Not only should a person make sure their will is updated, but other beneficiary designations on other financial assets, such as retirement accounts. Many times people fail to update their beneficiaries and sometimes they might no longer be the beneficiaries a person wants. If an estate is especially large, other estate planning documents might be useful in helping accomplish a person's wishes.

An estate planning attorney can help families plan their wishes. Proper documents that aren't hand written can help ensure assets are transferred effectively and smoothly. It might also be wise to check your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations periodically to make sure they still work for and fit your desired plan.

Source: Lake County News, "Estate Planning: Did you plan your vacation better than your estate?," Dennis Fordham, July 14, 2012

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