Guide to Making a Will
How to Plan Your Will
Communicating your legacy with one document
A will is an excellent way to demonstrate love and appreciation for the people and things you care about most. It is also an opportunity to make gifts to the people and causes you hold dear in a way that was not possible during your lifetime. When the Archdiocese receives gifts through wills, we know, respect and appreciate the thought and care that went into the decision to make us a beneficiary. We steward this generosity carefully.
In the U.S., more than half of adults with families have not created a will, the only legal document by which a person can name who should manage his or her estate, and direct how assets should be distributed.
If you die without having a will in place or “intestate”, your estate and your assets are divided according to the laws of the state in which you live. If you do not have a document in place with specific direction for disposition of your property, it is possible these assets will be distributed by the state in a way that will be very different, from what you would have preferred. If you die “intestate” the state is left to decide not only the disposition of your financial assets (including real estate) but also the guardianship of minor children. This can mean the exclusion of close friends and charities you would have wanted to support.
Each person is unique. The decisions regarding how your assets will be allocated in the event of your passing will, of course, be nuanced. That’s why it is so important to talk with your attorney about setting up a will that reflects the special relationships in your life, and benefits the people and causes you love and want to support.
When you prepare to see your attorney on this matter, make sure to know where you stand on the following:
- Prior wills and codicils, and the potential to revoke said documents
- Who you would want as the executor
- Any taxes and estate administration costs
- Payment of any outstanding debts
- Specific gifts to people and causes you want to support
Your will is your opportunity to control how your property is allocated to the people and causes you love after your passing. Below are a few ways you can take command now.
- Name the executor of your estate.
- Determine how your property will be distributed.
- Set up trusts.
- Determine the guardian(s) for any minor children.
- Ensure lifetime care for a child or dependent with a disability.
- Pass what you choose to your children.
- Set guidelines if you and your spouse pass away at the same time.
This document is not a substitute for legal opinion. Ask your attorney about setting up your will and the best next steps for your circumstances.
Please know that you can always work with your lawyer to revoke or amend your will, as life circumstances change.
To learn more, please contact:
Elin R. Schriver
Planned Giving Relationship Manager
835 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. Facts or figures cited here are examples for general educational purposes only. Please consult an attorney or tax advisor in your state for professional advice, to address your specific needs.