The Importance of Your Will
Wills are important. Everyone should have a will. Even individuals with few assets and/or heirs should have a will. Even healthy people should have a will in place.
Review your will regularly and make necessary revisions. Any revisions need to be entered into the will and registered properly. Improperly changing a will causes nothing but difficulties for survivors and decreases the chances that your wishes will be carried out.
Consult an attorney competent in these matters. The ADRC staff can provide you with a list of elder law attorneys in Pierce County.
Making an organized ''will packet'' can provide your survivors with much of the detailed information that will be required. It will provide peace of mind in a very stressful time.
Contents of a Will Packet
- Explanations of Durable Power of Attorney (POA), Guardianship, Health Care POA
- Name (and all contact information) of the executor(s) of your will
- Family history information
- Include parents' and siblings' names, dates of birth and death, city / country of origin, employment, interesting stories, educational and military background and your own birth / marriage / employment history
- Your own and your family medical history
- Letter of instructions to family or friends
- If you have access to a video camera, this is a nice way to do it
- Funeral / burial instructions
- If you have prepaid for services, or a plot, enclose information here
- Life insurance information (if you have a life insurance policy)
- Bank accounts and other financial accounts
- Safe deposit box key and information
For additional information which describes wills and other legal documents, we recommend you visit Washington Law Help, a service of the Northwest Justice Project.
An ethical will (sometimes called a "Legacy Letter") is a different kind of will. It is not a legal document. It written to communicate values and wisdom, history, stories, and love from one generation to another. The origins of ethical wills are based in several religious traditions. It preserves who you are and what matters most to you. It’s a way for you to be remembered and to make a real difference. This writing is often spiritual/ethical in nature. You do not need to pay anyone to create an ethical will for you (although there are any number of lawyers, businesses and books that offer that service.) You can do it yourself, with family members or with friends. There are several websites that describe an ethical will and can help you write your own. The following are only examples, not recommendations: