Dying to Live

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So it’s that time again where we talk about your money, assets, insurance and ways that you manage this money. I know, I know….dying is not something we like to think about, yet it is very much a part of living. As single parents, moms and dads, couples, singles, widows and widowers, it is important to prepare not only for life but also for death. In this article I will be focusing on making your will.

So if truth be told, I started blogging about wills and almost forgot about it! Notice I said almost! The truth is there is so much information that I sometimes do not know where to start!

Do you know that you can literally draft your own will? In the United Kingdom and many other countries, for example, you can draft your own will without it being notarized. There are some steps you can follow to do your own will. The information in this post covers making wills for persons who reside in the United States, the United Kingdom and the (english-speaking) Caribbean. 

There  are 6 criteria for making a will:

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  1. Write up a will in your sound mind. You know the assets that you have, sit down one day and make a list of everything that you own. It is best to do so when you are able bodied and thinking clearly, hopefully not sick. Being in a good mood helps!
  2. Name not one, but two executors for your will. It is important that you select persons who you trust to be the executors for your will. Having two executors ensures that even if one executor is incapacitated or dies the other can also fulfill this function. Be sure to inform your executors of the fact that they were both selected and inform them of their respective responsibilities.
  3. Your will should be signed in the presence of two witnesses. Witnesses should not be family members. Why? Well some family members may not like you…hmm…
  4. Clearly list and/or state your beneficiaries. Persons who you have named as beneficiaries in the will should not be witnesses. And again we could understand why this makes sense right?!
  5. Please note in the UK system, a beneficiary can however be an executor, but not a witness. The same applies to the spouse of the beneficiary and again you can easily understand why this might be so.
  6. In the US, wills need to be notarized. In the United Kingdom, the wills do not need to be notarized and are considered legal and binding documents once the preceding guidelines are followed.

Additional considerations:

Please make sure you have contact information for the witnesses who signed your will.  Remember these are the persons who basically have verified that your will is legitimate. Thus it is really important that your living relatives upon your passing have access to your witnesses to verify the contents of your will. 

And finally number the pages of your handwritten or typed document carefully. Let’s say for example you have a three page document, your page numbers could look like this, “1 of 3”, “2 of 3”, “3 of 3”, and also include “xxxxxxx” on the end of the last page. Numbering your pages ensures that the will reads clearly and logically. Additionally placing “xxxxxx” on the last page ensures that the readers know that the will has ended at that point, and that there are no more pages to come.

Working on your Wills

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Now that we have covered the basics, what type of information should you include in your will?

Property. List all the property that you own. If you have more than one property, in more than one geographic location then you will need a separate will or an update. For example, if you own property in different states, islands, countries etc, laws and requirements may differ for property ownership.

Additional Assets. You may purchase or acquire more assets after you have finished drafting and notarizing (if necessary) your will. Include a clause or statement for this distribution just in case you have additional assets.

Guardians. If you have really young children, list a single person or a couple who you would like to be responsible for your children. Guardians are the persons who you trust, persons who you believe will love and raise your children with the values that you espouse.

Estate vs Beneficiaries. There is a difference between estate and beneficiaries.  Some persons list estate and intend to come back and change it later. Other persons are very particular and list specific beneficiaries in their will almost immediately.

Accounts. Take stock of your accounts. It is important as you are creating a will to identify all the different accounts. Here is a list of different types of accounts. I will expand on these accounts in another post.

Bank/ Credit Unions

Checking / Saving / Moneymarket / CD

Real Estate

Mortgage / Second mortgage / Home equity


Mutual funds / Stocks / Bonds / ETFs / College / IRA / Annuity (may also be under retirement)

Loans and Debts

Auto / Student Loans / Home Improvement /Personal loan

Credit Cards

Bank Cards / Store Cards


Pensions / 401K / IRA / SSN/ National accts

Create a Financial Log

Finally you should create a financial account log. I have included a table for a financial log below. Please remember to include any updates about your banks, financial companies, new addresses, especially if another company buys over your loans etc.

Financial Log
Acct NameAuthorized Acct UsersName, Address, Phone Number of InstitutionAccount NumberAutomatic withdrawals  
    Yes /  No
Sample Financial Log

A word about Sinking Funds

A sinking fund is a special type of fund or account that you create to cover specific expenses. You can create sinking funds for: travel, gifts, cars, schools, Christmas, weddings, property taxes, pets etc.

Why is this important? Well whether you are living off one income or two, a sinking fund helps you to allocate funds to specific expenses each month, every two months for example to account for “surprise” expenditures! So Christmas, for example, is never a surprise, yet I always end up spending more than I should! I will also expand on this another time. But just note you should list your sinking fund in your financial log.

Hopefully this information was super helpful! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer just someone who is concerned with managing and accumulating wealth and empowering moms! I do however have a financial advisor and I will be telling you more about that in subsequent articles. Ultimately feel free to correct me if you see errors. There is still so much to learn!

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