Your will is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. But to think that over 70% of people don’t even have a will is, indeed, quite frightening.

Don’t be scared. A will is a tool, and you can handle it! Here’s a simple list of “don’ts” that may be helpful:

1. Don’t put it off until later. The worst thing you can do in creating a will is to procrastinate. You can keep waiting for a more convenient time, but the years have a way of slipping by. A will delayed is a will not done. Now is the time – while you are able – to do your will. For your sake, and the sake of your loved ones, do your will now!

2. Don’t do it by yourself. Saving a few bucks by writing your own will, or using a mass-produced generic form, will not provide the level of preciseness, inner peace and confidence you and your family deserve. Nothing can replace the benefits of a face-to-face meeting with a good estate planning attorney who asks the right questions and who knows how to draft a will that meets the specific requirements of your state of residence. Seek out a qualified attorney and have your estate plans done right.

3. Don’t rely solely on your will. Your will needs to be considered along with other transfer documents, such as life insurance policies, joint-ownership accounts, and retirement accounts. Other estate-planning documents might include: power of attorney, appropriate healthcare provision, a living will, and quite likely, a trust. Again, a good attorney can help you coordinate your planning and provide added assurance that everything you need is prepared legally and according to your wishes.

4. Don’t put it away and forget about it. Things change. Children grow up. New laws are passed affecting estate planning. New developments occur regarding health issues and financial resources. An outdated will could create more problems than it solves. It’s a good idea to review your will every year and keep it current. Make sure it does what you want.

5. Don’t put it where no one can find it. A will is worthless unless it can be located and processed at your death. Be sure to put it in a safe place, but also let someone else know where it is. Tell one or more loved ones, or a trusted friend. A little foresight can spare your family added stress during its time of grief.

Your Community Foundation of White County wants you and your loved ones to be protected with a good, up-to-date estate plan. We also want to remind you that an estate gift to your favorites charity or charities through CFWC can create a legacy that makes a positive statement to your family and friends regarding your priorities…as well as make a tremendous difference in the future of your community. Together, we can strengthen White County through charitable giving, and we would be honored to work with you to achieve that end.

Halloween is coming, and all the little goblins will be wandering the streets. If you don’t have a written will or estate provisions, it can be scary out there! Chase the ghosts away, and make an appointment to create your will.

For more information – as well as a free copy of a Personal Information Record that can help you gather important information – contact me at 574-583-6911 or check it out in the Giving section at www.cfwhitecounty.org.

Leslie Goss is executive director of the Community Foundation of White County