The Basics of a Living Will

Provided by Christina Bush, CES, CAS, CMFC
Wealth Manager/Certified Estate and Trust Specialist

Wills are the central (and one of the most complex) parts of estate planning.

Estates may seem like a lot of effort, but when you consult with a trusted financial professional and an estate planning attorney, they can take a lot of the stress, and potential mistakes, out of the planning process. Estate planning is a complex endeavor, and one of the key ingredients to a successful estate plan is a will.

A will is the central part of your plan. Your will simply spells out in legal terms, who will receive various parts of your estate, including savings, homes, and other assets. Your will can also be used to decide who will be guardians of your children if you pass away while they are still minors. By specifically laying out each asset and what person or charity it will be distributed to, you make your wishes crystal clear. This usually reduces much of the court and the government involvement in your estate.

Every will has several basic components. One of the first, and most important components, is picking someone to administer the will. Will administrators go by many titles that all essentially mean the same. Executor, administrator, and personal representative are the most common names used.

Your administrator has a large and important task in carrying out your wishes and handling the legal and financial aspects of your estate. Administrators must take inventory of your estate, make sure all remaining financial obligations have been met, and they must physically distribute the estate's contents as spelled out in the will. This job is a challenging and time-consuming task, and it goes without saying that you should choose someone with some level of financial experience whom you trust.

A will is also the tool used when deciding who should become the guardian of your children should you pass away while they're still minors. Usually if you leave property to the children, you must also appoint a guardian for that property.

Finally, you must decide who will get what. While it's not always pleasant to spell out in detail which relatives or friends will get your property, recent events have deemed this all-too-necessary. A few potentially uncomfortable conversations now may save for a long legal struggle in the future.

One interesting part of the will process is highlighted by state laws. In many states, a will must leave a certain percentage of the estate to the spouse. Thus, if for some reason you write your will leaving everything to your children or grandchildren, your spouse can challenge it and receive his or her percentage guaranteed by law.

No one likes talking about their own demise, but as we all know, it's going to happen someday. So why not be financially and legally prepared for it? By taking the time to properly plan your estate, and more specifically, your will, you help reduce the chances of long legal struggles that can potentially drag on for years. In the process, it isn't specific heirs who get lost in the legal shuffle, it's your life's work. Wills are complex and have various rules that aren't contained within this article, that's why seeking professional help is so necessary. Estate planning may be arduous at times, but it helps ensure that you'll be remembered for who you were in life, not 'who gets what' in death.

Written by Securities America for distribution by Christina Bush, CB Wealth Advisory.


Original Date: 07/03/05 - Last Reviewed:11/04/09

CB Wealth Advisory - Private Wealth Management



Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member and; Christina Bush, Registered Representative. Advisory services offered through Cooper McManus, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm; Christina Bush, Investment Advisor Representative. CB Wealth Advisory, Securities America and Cooper McManus are separate entities.

This site is published for residents of the United States and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or product that may be referenced herein. Persons mentioned on this website may only offer services and transact business and/or respond to inquiries in states or jurisdictions in which they have been properly registered or are exempt from registration. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state, jurisdiction or from every person listed. Third party posts found on this profile do not reflect the views of Securities America and have not been reviewed by Securities America as to accuracy or completeness.

Christina Bush, licensed insurance agent: CA Insurance license #0B48734 - FL Insurance license #W050514 - NC Insurance license #2620839 - WA Insurance license # 787335


A prospectus offer is required by SEC Rule 482(b)(1) that advises an investor to consider the investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses of an investment company carefully before investing; explains that the prospectus, and, if available, the summary prospectus contains this and other information about the investment company; identifies a source from which an investor may obtain a prospectus and, if available, a summary prospectus; and states that the prospectus and, if available, the summary prospectus should be read carefully before investing.

A broker/dealer (BD), investment adviser (IA), or IA representative may only transact business in a state if first registered, or is excluded or exempt from state broker/dealer, investment adviser, BD agent, or IA registration requirements, as appropriate. Follow-up, individualized responses to persons in a state by such a firm or individual that involve either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made without first complying with appropriate registration requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion.

For information concerning the licensing status or disciplinary history of a BD, IA, BD agent, or IA rep, a consumer should contact his or her state securities law administrator.

Securities in accounts are carried by National Financial Services, LLC, member NYSE/SIPC, a Fidelity Investment Company, which is protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) up to $500,000 (including cash claims limited to $100,000). NFS has arranged for additional insurance protection for cash and securities to supplement its' SIPC coverage. This additional protection covers total account net equity in excess of the $500,000/coverage provided by SIPC. This protection does not cover losses associated with investing.

For detailed information about SIPC, please visit


Copyright 2018 by Christina Bush/CB Wealth Advisory