I would like to give a little plug for a thoughtful article that recently appeared in the New York Times titled What It Was Like to Finally Write My Will. You should be able to view it at this link:
The writer hits on many of the reasons we tend to put off writing a will and why doing it is a very good for so many reasons. He also reminded me that the musical artist Prince died without a will and the fight over his estate has been a long and expensive circus. Also, Dickens's Bleak House was centered on a long family feud over an inheritance.
If you don't have a chance to read the article, here's the simple and practical To-Do List that was printed with the article that sums it up nicely:
1. GET A WILL- Really. Dying without one- "intestate" - is a drag for everyone.
2. GET A LAWYER- Unless your life is wonderfully uncomplicated, you'll want the help of an adviser. Even if you do it yourself, have a lawyer look over your work.
3. DECIDE ON YOUR BENEFICIARIES, and make sure your insurance policies and other investments are in agreement with what your will says.
4. NAME AN EXECUTOR- It's a tough and thankless job, so get someone with good judgment; this person can be paid out of our estate.
5. GOT YOUNG KIDS? NAME A GUARDIAN- If not, the courts will appoint one; why not take care of this essential matter ahead of time?
6. SECURE YOUR PAPERWORK- Once the documents are done, put them in a safe place and make sure your relatives know how to find them.
7. REVISIT IT EVERY FIVE YEARS- The world changes; your will should, too.