When parents hire a baby sitter, they usually leave a list of written instructions that help the sitter in caring for their children and in knowing what to do if there is an emergency. These instructions also help the parents—giving them peace of mind when they know that their children—their most precious possessions—will be protected.

My wife and I have found that the more detailed the instructions we provide a baby sitter for our two children, the better. For example, in the evening our three-year-old always brushes her teeth, reads one book, and then it’s lights out. This sequence is important because it ensures that her daily routine will not be disrupted, and that both she and the baby sitter know what to do.

So it is with wills and trusts. Just as a set of instructions is for the baby sitter, a will or a trust is a set of instructions for those who will handle your affairs after your death. Wills and trusts dictate how your money will be spent, how people should be treated, and what your priorities are. These instructions have the same ends as baby sitter instructions—to care for loved ones.

Many couples leave detailed instructions for baby sitters when they are going out for only a few hours. How many people leave instructions for their loved ones when they are going to be gone forever?

 

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