7. Prepare A Will - Before It’s Too Late
“That gift which is given to the proper subject
at the proper time in the proper place,
that gift is said to be pure (satwic and most beneficial).”
- Bhagavad Gita 17:21
“If wealth is not distributed, it will be wasted
as water stored in an unfired clay pot is wasted.
Wealth not properly distributed
is wasted in a hundred different ways.”
- Mahabharata, Vana Parva
“You should give with respect.
You should not give without respect.
You should give with abundance.
You should give with modesty.
You should give with care.
You should give with understanding.”
- Taittiriya Upanishad, Shiksha Vali
1. Itemize Your Assets, Plan Your Funeral, and Select Your Beneficiaries
2. Avoid Probate Court with Beneficiary Documents and Joint Accounts
3. Wills, Living Wills, Living Trusts, Executors, Power of Attorney
4. Asset Checklist, Funeral Checklist, Digital Information
5. Funeral Yagyas in your Will
6. Online Will-Making Software
7. Simple, Sample Will
Currently about $33 billion in inheritance funds are detained by Probate Courts in the USA, because the funds were not clearly designated to beneficiaries. Almost 60% of adult Americans don’t have a will, according to a survey from www.lawyers.com. 18 % of Americans experience problems due to poor estate planning, and nearly 8% percent of Americans do not have any estate plan because they say that they do not want to think about dying.
This section offers a few suggestions about how to do the most good with your remaining material assets - in particular, how to arrange your funeral yagyas and maximize your goodwill. You probably only need a simple Will or a few simple documents, described below.
In any case, don’t delay.
1. Itemize all your personal assets and liabilities. See Checklist below.
2. Decide where you want your wealth to go when you depart from this world. Consider your own funeral arrangements, your relatives, and charities which support the expansion of vedic knowledge to create heaven on earth.
3. Avoid the hassles of Probate Court. Without proper planning, your assets can be held and allocated by Probate Court according to the laws of your state of residence. Probate court can be expensive, time-consuming, public, and confusing. Make sure that YOU control where your assets go when you die - NOT the Probate Court. Probate court will distribute your estate according to an impersonal formula that might have little to do with your intentions.
4. Start with your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, 401(k)s, IRA’s, retirement plans, annuities, and Life Insurance Policies - really any account that allows you to name beneficiaries. For these accounts a Will is not necessary. Beneficiary Designation documents from your bank, brokerage firm and insurance agency are called Payable-on-Death (POD) or Transfer-on-Death (TOD) documents. Some states also allow Transfer-on-Death deeds, which transfer ownership of real estate (house and other property) automatically when you die - without the cost and delays of Probate Court. These deeds and documents specify what percentage of your assets/account balances your beneficiaries will inherit.
Designate your beneficiaries clearly on these forms, and specify in writing (your Will) and in person whatever you want them to do for your funeral. Make an agreement with your trusted beneficiaries. They can inherit your assets and carry out your wishes, if they have a clear understanding of what you want.
Usually beneficiaries must collect their funds in person - even if the account is in another country. They must present their photo IDs and the death certificate of the deceased account holder.
Always designate several beneficiaries as primary and contingent, in case your first choices are not available. If you are married and you want to name someone other than your spouse as the primary beneficiary, a spousal consent form may be necessary.
5. Joint Accounts are another method to make funds immediately available for yagya performances before, during and after death. You can use your existing bank account and add your most trusted friend(s) or relative(s) as account holders. When a joint account holder dies, the other account holder(s) spend(s) the funds according to the wishes of the deceased. This is practical only when the joint account holders understand clearly how to use their funds for final yagya expenses. See Section 5 - Costs and Materials.
Most banks set up all of their joint accounts as “Joint with Rights of Survivorship” (JWROS). This type of account ownership generally states that upon the death of either of the owners, the assets will automatically transfer to the surviving owner. One problem is that federal gift taxes will be charged to the surviving joint holder(s). Currently taxes are charged for any gifts above $15,000. Also banks restrict the number of people allowed on a joint account. When the final account holder dies, the account reverts to a beneficiary, who fulfills the wishes of the final account holder.
IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, etc., can only have one owner, so forget about joint ownership. Instead designate beneficiaries on the brokerage firm documents.
6. Create a Will using online software. See suggested websites below. For comparisons see:
7. Appoint Executors to oversee the distribution of your assets in your Will after you die. Your Executors should be trusted friends, relatives or lawyers, who will settle all your final financial affairs according to the guidelines in your Will. Designate several Executors as primary (and contingent, in case your first choices are not available). Similarly, designate several Beneficiaries as primary or contingent. Leave nothing to chance.
8. A Revocable Living Trust is another way to avoid entangling your assets in Probate Court. If you have substantial assets and beneficiaries, then you, (the Trust-Maker or granter) place those assets into a Trust, which you can use during your lifetime. When you die, the assets in the Trust are dispersed by the successor Trustee or alternate Trustees according to the Trust document. A Trust has financial, privacy, and security benefits versus a Will, but funds are not immediately available.
Legally Binding Documents:
1. Get Signatures from at least two witnesses for your Will.
2. Get Notarization by a notary public (who verifies the signing of legal documents).
3. Get a Notarized Self-Proving Affidavit, which saves your Executor from having to track down your witnesses after you die.
4. Revise an Existing Will:
A) For extensive changes, create a completely new Will.
B) For minor changes, amend the existing Will with in a ‘Codicil’.
5. Remember, it costs more to clean up a financial mess than it does to plan ahead. For example in some states, after signing the Will, the Testator (Will Maker) must speak out loud, in the presence of at least two witnesses, that the document belongs to him or her. If the Testator fails to confirm the Will out loud, it is invalid! Also, an attorney should review Wills that “unnaturally dispose” of the deceased’s assets by A) eliminating family members from the Will, or B) giving most of your assets to someone who you have not known very long. If you have questions, check with an estate lawyer.
Funeral or Memorial Service
If you want specific yagyas or funeral ceremonies, you must inform your Executor and family in writing. If you want cremation, get a letter of no objection from your closest family member. You can even pre-pay your funeral costs, so that your family or friends don’t have to cover those expenses while they wait to access your money.
Specify in your Will that funeral expenses are approximate, and may be adjusted according to available funds. When all funeral yagya expenses are paid, remaining bank funds may be distributed to beneficiaries and/or deposited into a charitable fund of your choice.
Also specify to cremate the body as soon as possible, wherever the body may be at the time of death - ideally with proper Agni Sanskar Kriyas (Vedic cremation rites) in the presence of pandits and friends.
Also if desired, specify that the ashes from cremation are to be placed in a flowing river or ocean with proper Asthi Visarjan Kriyas (Vedic immersion rites), as soon as reasonably possible in the presence of Vedic Pandits. Again, the sooner, the better.
Finally, specify that Narayan Bali Yagya must accompany Antyeshti Kriya Rites if death is caused by any unusual or extraordinary circumstances. See below.
SIMPLE, SAMPLE WILL
Following is a basic Will with vedic funeral requests.
Always check with an estate attorney in your state of residence
to ensure that your requests conform to state law.
Last Will and Testament of your full legal name
Part 1. Personal Information
I, your full legal name , a resident of the State of _________________________________________________________,
(city, county, country) declare that this is my will.
Part 2. Revocation of Previous Wills
I revoke all wills and codicils that I have previously made.
Part 3. Children and Marriage
I have no living children and I am not married and do not have a registered domestic partner.
Part 4. Disposition of Property
I bequeath my funds in _________________________ bank(s), (city and state of bank) to (name of beneficiary) (contact info). (name of beneficiary) is listed as the beneficiary for_____________________________________ account(s).
If (name of beneficiary) does not survive me, I bequeath the above funds to __________________________________ (contact info). I bequeath the funds in my _____________________________________________ account(s) to be used for my funeral.
I bequeath my non-monetary personal belongings to ________________________________.
Other requests: __________________________________________________________.
Part 5. Executor
I name __________________________ to be the Executor of my estate. No executor shall be required to post bond.
Part 6. Power of Attorney
I name _______________________ to have Power of Attorney over my affairs and my body.
Part 7. Funeral Arrangements
Executor/Beneficiaries and their appointed representatives, shall use my finances to organize Vedic funeral rites, as outlined below to the best of their ability. The funds in my bank and brokerage accounts should pay for the following estimated funeral and yagya expenses.
- Yagyas (recommended by the Maharishi Jyotish/Yagya Office) before death, including Graha Shanti, MY505 and MY507, if possible. ($5000 -$25,000)
- Mahamrityun Jaya Japa before death, if possible. ($2000)
- Cremation Rites as soon as possible after death. This includes transportation of body to cremation ground, ideally with proper Agni Sanskar Kriyas (Vedic cremation rites) in the presence of pandits and friends. ($300 -$1000)
- Immersion of Ashes and gold leaf into the Ganges River flowing through the Himalayas, with proper Asthi Visarjan Kriyas (Vedic immersion rites), as soon as reasonably possible in the presence of Vedic Pandits. ($500)
- High Level Yagyas (recommended by the Maharishi Jyotish/Yagya Office) after death, such as MY507 and MY 514. ($5000-$25,000)
- 13 Day Antyeshti Kriya Funeral Rites with several pandits officiating, using high quality puja samagri and gifts of gold. ($2000-$5000)
- If death is unnatural or unusual, Narayan Bali Yagya should accompany Antyesthi Kriya rites. ($500)
- Go Dhan - Milking cow(s) and cow feed offered to deserving Brahmins. ($1000-$3000)
- Generous gifts of food and dakshina to pandits, brahmin families, gurukulam schools, sadhu ashrams, and other deserving dharmic organizations. ($500 -$5,000)
- 10. Generous reimbursements to Executor/Beneficiaries, friends and guests for all expenses related to funeral arrangements, including travel, lodging and food. ($1000-$5000)
- 11. Pinda Daan and feeding brahmins each month on the lunar day (tithi) of my death for one year following death. ($500-$1000)
- 12. Bhagavat Saptah Yagya any time after one year of passing, ($5000-$15,000)
Part 8. Signature
I, _________________________, the testator, sign my name to this document, this ________ day of ________, ________, at ________________________________ (city, state, country).
I, _________________________, the testator, sign my name to this document, this ________ day of ________, ________, at ________________________________ (city, state, country).
I declare that I sign and execute this document as my last will, that I sign it willingly and
that I execute it as my free and voluntary act. I declare that I am of the age of majority or
otherwise legally empowered to make a will, and under no constraint or undue influence.
Part 9. Witnesses (Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries)
We, the witnesses, sign our names to this document, and declare that the testator willingly
signed and executed this document as the testator's last will. We declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct, this ____________ day of ______________, ________, at _______________________________________________________ (city, state and country).
Sign your name: _______________________________________
Print your name: ______________________________________
Sign your name: ____________________________________
Print your name: ____________________________________
Signed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me on: _____________________ (date) by
(names of individuals making statement).
Signature of Notary Public: ______________________ (STAMP)
Title of office: ________________________________
My commission expires: ________________________
MEDICAL CONSIDERATIONS - If You Are Ill or Incapacitated
Power of Attorney (POA) can authorize a trusted friend or relative to manage your finances and legal matters BEFORE you die - in case you are incapacitated. POA can commence the moment that you are declared incompetent or incapacitated. Your POA could request special yagyas for health and peace of mind during your final days. When you die, the POA expires and the person with POA can no longer legally act on your behalf; then your Executor takes control of your finances. The same person can serve as POA and Executor. POA documents are different for each state, but usually you can get the document from the same online services where you make your Will.
A Living Will (a.k.a. An Advance Health Care Directive) outlines your wishes for medical care if you are incapacitated and can't speak for yourself. Every state has different documents and different guidelines for a Living Will. Essentially, you designate what type of medical care you want to receive if you can't speak for yourself. Again, when you sign the form, you'll usually need two witnesses, and a stamp by a notary. When you're finished, keep a copy for yourself, and give copies to your physician, a family member, your lawyer, and your healthcare agent. Additionally, if you do not want CPR or ACLS, you should fill out a Do Not Resuscitate order with your doctor.
Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA - also known as an agent, attorney-in-fact, health care proxy, or health care surrogate) is similar to POA, but is only for making medical decisions - not financial decisions. This person can make exceptional medical choices that may not be covered in your Living Will. The same person can serve as POA, Medical POA and Executor. But only your MPOA can access your medical records, apply for Medicare on your behalf, and make choices about any medical procedures when you can't. Usually you can name a MPOA in your Living Will.
Keep A Master File of Critical Info in a safe deposit box or locked computer folder. Make sure that you have listed your beneficiaries for bank and brokerage accounts! Have your Executor oversee all documents.
List all your assets and their value.
Health Insurance Policies
Life Insurance Policies
Pension Plans from Employers
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
Personal Property (House, Car, etc.)
Annuities, Investments, Loans to Others.
Life insurance policy (especially policies from former employers), retirement plans, and pensions and annuities are easy to overlook. Your life insurance policy can pay for funeral costs, car loans, credit cards, mortgages, and anything else.
Your Emergency File of Critical Information might also include:
- Your Contact Information (addresses, phone, email)
- Contact Info of Relatives, Will Executor, and Beneficiaries
- Your Employer’s Contact Info
- Will & Testament
- Living Trust
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Letter of Instructions to Executors
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Citizenship papers
- Divorce/separation papers
- Adoption papers
- Social security numbers/cards
- Passports (numbers and expiration dates)
- Driver's License (number, expiration date)
- Military records
- Names/address/telephone numbers of healthcare professionals
- Healthcare proxies
- Health records: Immunization records, allergies, dietary restrictions,, medical/surgical treatments
- Medications (dosages, name of prescribing physicians, pharmacy, address/telephone)
- Hospitals recognized by your insurance company
- Medicare numbers
- Medicaid numbers (caseworker numbers, address/telephone)
- Social worker or caseworker names and contact information
- Passwords, web sites, and other digital information
- Income sources (retirement and/or disability benefits, Social Security, etc.)
- Insurance Policies: Homeowners, auto, medical, life, disability, and other insurance agents/brokers contact info and policy numbers
- Financial assets: cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, money market funds, retirement and pension plans, IRAs, annuities, life insurance (institution names, account numbers, address/telephone, form of ownership, current value)
- Real Estate (property addresses, location of deeds, form of ownership, current value)
- Other Property including automobiles, boats, inheritances, precious gems, collectibles, household items, hidden valuables/items in storage, loans to family members/friends (location of items/titles/documents/form of ownership, current value)
- Liabilities (Creditor institutions, address/telephone, approximate debt) of mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, notes, IOUs, etc.)
- Trust documents
- Pet information: Description of each pet, vet contact information, and any important medical notes
Secure Your Digital Life
Give your Executor access to your passwords. (Keep in a safe deposit box, until you pass). When you're putting together your list of usernames and passwords, include instructions for how you want those accounts handled. Also specify files and folders on your computer that you want deleted or transferred. For example, Facebook can memorialize your page if you want, but if you don't want that digital record sticking around, you might request your heirs to delete it. Likewise, if an heir wants access to your email accounts and you don't give them the password, they'll need to provide your email service with your name, address, photo ID, email, and death certificate - although most accounts will expire within one year of non-use.
Do-It-Yourself Will-Making Software
For basic asset allocation you can produced decent, simple Wills with online software, but for larger estates with multiple beneficiaries, double check your online work with an estate lawyer or financial advisor, who knows the laws of your state. For review and comparison of the best Will-Making Sites online, go to: https://www.toptenreviews.com/software/home/best-will-software/#product-comparison
The Best Will Software includes downloadable forms, which allow you to create as many documents as you want for a one-time fee. They can be downloaded on multiple computers, and require no monthly fees. Just be sure to save the final documents in a PDF format, so they can’t be changed. Keep copies of your Will in a bank safe deposit box and on your computer, as well as in a home safe accessible to your Executors and Family.
#1 Quicken WillMaker Plus - Most Highly Rated Overall
Quicken WillMaker Plus gets high reviews as the best overall program, because it’s easy-to-use and includes all the documents you need to create a thorough and legally binding Will and Testament. It has templates for all the important documents, including Power of Attorney and a Living Will. It runs on Windows 7/8/8.1/10 or Mac 10.10 and higher. It is written by a competent legal team, but is user friendly and walks you through all the normal parts of a Will, letting you skip the parts that are not relevant, but reminding you of a lot of possibilities you wouldn’t otherwise have considered. WillMaker Plus lets you input the state where your Will will be probated, and guarantees the proper wording for that state. It creates notification letters to send to future caregivers and the Executor of your Will. The interview format WillMaker uses is simple and includes clear explanations of all the legal terms. The Plus Edition of this software costs less than $50, which is less than you’d pay a lawyer for a one-hour consultation. It can be permanently downloaded on your computer, so you can make changes to your will or other estate planning documents without paying the monthly service fee associated with other online Will services. If you do make changes to your Will, WillMaker Plus has revocation documents for your health care directive and the Power of Attorney.
Downloadable software can be installed on more than one computer
Printable checklists and documents
No email or phone support
A bit more expensive than others
#2 Law Depot - Rated Best Value
Law Depot is an online Will software that offers a free one-week subscription. During the free subscription period, you have access to all the documents you need to create a Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will. Once the free trial is over, you can either choose to subscribe to the service for a monthly fee, or pay for each legal document you want to create. If you cancel the service and still want access, then print your documents and save them in PDF form. This software is easy to use, and the interview-style data entry format walks you through the process of creating documents step-by-step. There is a comprehensive FAQs page that has answers to all the standard questions and is a good resource for learning about the estate planning process. You can save the final document as a PDF or Word document. https://www.lawdepot.com/contracts/last-will-and-testament-usa/
- Free one-week subscriptionNo software to downloadStraightforward software design
- No spellcheck or worksheetsIt’s expensive if you don’t finish your Will within the free 7 Day subscription periodNo lawyer directory
- $19.95 Law Depot
#3 Legal Zoom - Rated Easiest to Use
Legal Zoom is one of the more expensive Will Making software services, but it has the best support options and is incredibly easy-to-use. It uses a combination of interview-style information input and text fields. You can include detailed information regarding the sale of your property, distribution of assets and care of your minor children in each text field. You have to pay for a Power of Attorney and health care directive, which makes this software more expensive than other estate planning tools. This is one of the only Will software programs that requires additional payment for those documents. The estate planning documents you create with Legal Zoom are legally binding, and if you have any questions about the software platform, the support staff is available to answer questions by phone or email, and a lawyer directory is included. The FAQs page has a plethora of helpful answers to most questions and the reference guide can help you navigate unfamiliar legal terminology.
- Easy-to-use online interfaceGreat support optionsInsightful FAQ page
- ExpensiveLiving will and power of attorney documents cost extraNo printable checklists
- $69.00 Legal Zoom
#4 Doyourownwill.com - Absolutely Free Online Service
Free Service prompts you to enter the necessary information.
- Agree to the site’s disclaimer.
- Select your marital status and whether you have children.
- Enter your personal information.
- Name an Executor for your Will.
- Note specific items to be given to individuals or organizations.
- Describe how remaining assets will be distributed.
- Confirm a summary of the information you have entered.
- Save your document in Adobe PDF or editable .docx format.
- Follow the signing instructions at the end of the document.
The free service is simple; it produces a Will that is valid in all states, and offers good email support. It's free, because it is supported by revenue from ads.