4 Steps to Your First Will 

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1. Begin With the Basics
Start by getting organized: Outline your objectives, determine the value of your property, inventory your major assets, estimate outstanding debts, and prepare a list of family members and other beneficiaries to whom you want to pass assets. You'll also want to ask yourself these two questions:
  • How do I want to divide my assets among my family members, other loved ones and favorite causes?
  • Do I need to make special provisions for any of my heirs?
Read in-depth information about creating your first will.

2. Choose Guardians
If you have minor children or an adult child, a parent, or a spouse with special needs who is your dependent, you must think about who will care for them when you're gone. Talk to your proposed guardian ahead of time about what you are asking, and understand that if you don't name a guardian, the courts may end up doing it for you.

3. Choose an Executor
Your executor undertakes many important responsibilities, including:
  • Notifying all interested parties and agencies of your death.
  • Paying creditors and outstanding taxes.
  • Distributing your assets according to your will.
If you don't have a will, or if your will doesn't name an executor, the courts will appoint one.

4. Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney
To avoid trouble for your heirs, seek the counsel of an estate planning attorney to help record your wishes in a legally sound will.

Question MarkAt What Cost?
When drafting your will, you may spend a few hundred dollars or several times that amount depending on where you live. Whatever the going rate in your area, resist the "deal." Instead, select a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you save your estate money and eliminate heartache in the long run.

Learn how to prepare for this meeting with your attorney.

We're Here to Help
When drafting your will, we hope you'll support Willamette University by including a charitable bequest that will benefit our important cause after your lifetime. Just contact Lori L. Hoby at (866) 204-8102 or lhoby@willamette.edu if you would like more information about this flexible way to support our mission.

If you are working with your attorney to include Willamette in your will or living trust, or if you would like to name Willamette as beneficiary of a retirement account or life insurance policy, we recommend that you use the following designation: ? "to Willamette University, a nonprofit corporation located in Salem, OR ?" We encourage you or your attorney to contact one of our gift planning professionals to help you ensure that your bequest best accomplishes your intentions regarding Willamette.