How To Draw Up Smart Objectives That Will Work
12 October, 2012By NT Contributor
SMART principles dont work in all cases. Heres what to do.
In 1961 a 15-year-old was caught and returned to the institution that he had run away from. His punishment: to dig over a large space in a walled garden with a spade then break down the earth with a pitchfork, collecting the debris for burning as he went.
Determined not to be tortured by the hard labour, he set about systematically dividing the ground into squares, knowing he could manage to work four squares each day. Carefully re-marking the squares each morning, he left his cruel superiors speechless as he completed the task in a matter of weeks.
That boys name was John Bird and, 30 years later he would use the same SMART skills to set up The Big Issue.
SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely – can trace its origins back to the engineering and education textbooks of the 1950s.
Today, people all over the world – including many clinicians – use this simple method to achieve their goals.
Its benefits are clear, yet many people still find they fail to meet their objectives. Put simply, this is often because they fail to set their objectives in the right way.
Following the five simple steps in the box will help you achieve success.
All that is required is effort and there arent many professionals that make more of this than nurses.
Five points for SMART working
Best For Free: Do Your Own Will
Do Your Own Will
Youll need to check state laws yourself
Started in 1999 in Seattle, Do Your Own Will is a completely free way to make a last will and testament, power of attorney, or living will. Beyond the unbeatable price, one of the major perks is that its simple to usethere is no need to sign up for an account, though you will need to provide your email address if you want to make updates or changes later.
Users complete forms online by filling in details such as marital status, info on dependents, how you want your assets to be divided, and your executor. Download the document as a PDF or Word document, then you can sign it.
Its available nationwide. One caveat: There is no legal support, so make sure you do your own research to make sure your will is really legally binding.
Sign Your Will In Front Of Witnesses
After making your will, you’ll need to sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses. If you’re using a document called a “self-proving affidavit” with your will , your signature must be notarized as well. Full instructions are included with Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker software.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may be more difficult to get in-person signatures or notarization. Read more about alternatives in Notarizing and Witnessing Legal Documents During the Coronavirus Crisis.
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To Determine Who Will Care For Your Minor Children
I did not write our first will until after our oldest child was born. We live several hours away from our closest family members, and if something were to happen to both of us, the state of Texas would decide who would take care of our child.
While its unlikely that two parents would die at the same time, I sleep better at night knowing that my wife and I have decided ahead of time who will take care of our children in that unlikely event.
List Your Funeral Details
This is another very important aspect of your Will as it will help your family members deal with your final arrangements. You should visit a funeral home and create a list of everything that has to be decided when you pass away so that each of these things can be addressed in your Will.
This will make sure that your final wishes are honored and that the burden is removed from your grieving family members. This is also the opportunity for you to list end of life requests such as whether or not you would want to be kept alive by artificial means, etc.
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Last Will And Testament
The Last Will and Testament is the main thing we wanted out of this process because we wanted to direct who would take care of our children if something were to happen to us. The Will also dictates what happens to our assets.
We werent very nitpicky here. Lastly, we had to decide on an Executor and Guardians for the children.
How To Write A Will
If you’re a new parent, you should write up a will as soon as possible after your baby is born or adopted. It’s also a good idea to update it if you have more children, or any time you undergo a big life change .
When you begin preparing your will, here are the steps you should keep in mind:
- Choose a legal executor, the person who will execute” your wishes as laid out in your will.
- Do an inventory of your assets and liabilities. Basically, you want to know what you have and what will need to be paid off if you pass away.
- or who will inherit your estate.
- Talk to your chosen guardian to make sure he or she understands and is willing to take care of your children upon your death.
- Consider a “living will” in addition to your will. This allows you to direct your end-of-life medical care. Your estate attorney can help you prepare the documents along with your will, since laws for living wills may vary from state to state.
- Talk to a financial planner or tax attorney if youre concerned about estate taxes. This is also helpful if your estate is large or complex.
- Have an attorney prepare a will that adheres to your wishes and your states laws.
- Sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who are not named in the will. You may also want it to be notarized.
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Make Your Own Will Or Work With A Professional
Its usually a good idea to consult an attorney who can help answer legal questions and guide you through the will-making process. In some cases, however, you may be able to use a free online toolespecially if you dont have minor children and have a modest, uncomplicated estate. If you participate in a retirement plan through Principal or have one of our IRAs, you and your spouse can also access free online resources to prepare your own will and other estate planning documents from ARAG®.
To get started, create an account with ARAG.
Find An Online Template Or Service
While about half of the US states recognize handwritten, or holographic, wills as valid, it’s always best to type out a formal will on a computer.
Note that even if you and your spouse plan to have nearly identical wills, you need to create separate documents for each person.
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What Are Some Things That Could Invalidate My Will
The probate process is where a judge certifies that your will is valid. A few possible reasons why your will could be deemed invalid might include things like:
Mental incompetence: To be mentally competent, you’ll generally need to understand what it is you own, who your relatives are, what your relationship is with the beneficiaries you’ve chosen, what your last will and testament actually says and what that means. In some states, there may be additional rules around how to define “mental competence,” such as excluding people who are experiencing hallucinations or delusions. A lawyer can help you understand the guidelines in your state.
Previous wills: If you have another version of your will circulating out there, there could be some confusion about which one is valid. Once you’ve updated one version of your will, it’s often suggested that you destroy all other copies of your outdated will to make your intentions clear.
Improper witnesses: In most places, you need two witnesses over age 18. They, too, need to be mentally competent and observe you signing your will.
This is not an exhaustive list and there may be other factors considered by the court. For greater nuance on your own situation, we recommend you speak to an attorney.
Do You Need A Lawyer To Make A Will
In short, no, you absolutely do not need a lawyer to make your Will. That said, legal counsel can offer guidance and advice if you are nervous or have questions about Will preparation for the first time.
Trust & Will makes the process easy and efficient, and all our documents are created by lawyers and professionals familiar with the world of Estate Planning. And, when you work with Trust & Will, you have full access to our experts, so you can get detailed answers to all of your questions.
We know there are many things to consider when making a Will, so if you have any questions along the way, our real-time chat lets you connect with our team instantly.
Writing your Will is not only important, its also incredibly empowering. Thats why we suggest taking just 10 minutes today to Start your Will with Trust & Will. We know youll feel good knowing that you have safeguarded your legacy..
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Set Up A Will For The Future
Setting up a will is one of the best ways to help put your loved ones minds at ease when you pass away. Its one of the most important ways to provide for your family members and divvy up your assets exactly how you envisioned.
Still not sure which service you prefer? Trust & Will can give you a complete will in minutes, starting at $69, and you can specify your preferences for health care and medical treatment. Your family can use your preferences for health care as a guide if you are ever incapacitated. Trust & Wills documents have been designed and vetted by attorneys with decades of estate planning experience.
Finally, if youre dissatisfied with your completed documents, you can contact Trust & Will within 30 days of your purchase for a full refund, without any strings attached.
How Should I Choose An Attorney To Create A Will
Before you begin looking for an attorney or law firm to work with, look at your own situation to determine your needs. Most people should just need to find an attorney experienced in will-drafting, power of attorney and trusts.
If you have a more complex situation, such as owning real estate in multiple states, overseas bank accounts, or your own business, you should look for an attorney specializing in those specific areas of estate law. To check this, see what legal organizations they belong to and whether they’re licensed to work in a specific field or location.
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How To Write My Own Will
Writing your own will is probably not a high-priority item on your to-do list. After all, no one wants to think about their demise. That said, creating a will is one of the most important duties that you can do for your family. While writing a will sounds like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. There are online tools that you can use to write a basic will.
Determine Distribution In Your Will
Talk with family and friends to learn who would most appreciate certain belongings. You don’t have to be overt or morbid in such conversations. The point is to get a feel for what would be a cherished bequest to a loved one and what would not. Then record which items should go to whom.
Be specific about who gets what. However, many attorneys caution against getting personal about your bequest decisions in your will. Since it’s a legal document, it should contain just the language essential to convey your wishes. If you want to elaborate on your choices, leave a separate letter to your survivors. There you can explain, for example, that you left your son Joe less than his siblings because you had given Joe more financial help over the years.
As mentioned above, be sure to consider beneficiaries listed on assets such as bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement plans. Beneficiary designations take precedence over the wishes outlined in your will. Avoid conflicts by changing your beneficiaries as needed.
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What Else Do You Need Living Will Power Of Attorney Trust
Most people know and understand the role of a Last Will, or at least they think they do, but that doesnt stop a majority of Americans from not having a will. A last will and testament is the cornerstone and most critical piece of a persons estate plan. And, it is more than instructions on who gets your worldly possessions.
A will is not the only estate planning document you need. Here is an essential estate planning checklist of the basic four tools you need to ensure your wishes are carried out and your familys best interests are protected if you die or become disabled.
How A Last Will And Testament Works
A last will and testament is a document you write when youâre still alive, and the instructions in it are carried out after your death. Itâs an important component of your estate plan, which ensures your affairs are settled the way you wantâincluding who receives your assets and who will serve as legal guardian to your dependents. A will can also include arrangements for surviving accounts or care of another individual, such as an elderly parent.
The last will and testament names another person as an executor of the estate, which is the individual whoâs responsible for making sure the estate is administered. Typically, the probate court supervises the executor to make sure all of the wishes in the will are followed. To be legally valid, a last will and testament needs to be signed by an individual whoâs of sound mind and mentally capable. Most states have other guidelines, such as requiring the signatures of two unrelated adults.
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Name A ‘residuary Beneficiary’
After the executor is finished distributing the assets and paying bills, debts, and taxes, the “residuary beneficiary” will receive what’s left over in your estate, if anything. This person or charity can be a beneficiary who already received a piece of property it does not need to be someone new.
What Is A Will
A will is a legal document that states how your affairs will be handled after you die. A basic will designates who will receive your property, appoints a guardian for your minor children, and names an executor to manage your estate.
While laws vary state by state, there are a few formal requirements that a will must meet:
- The testator, the person making the will, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.
- The will must be in writing. While about half the states allow handwritten, also called holographic, wills, a pre-printed or typewritten document is preferred.
- The testator must sign and date the will in front of witnesses who are at least 18 years old. Some states require two witnesses, while others require three.
- Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in the will.
- It isn’t necessary to have your will notarized. It’s a good idea, however, to have your witnesses sign a self-proving” affidavit, which is a sworn statement signed by both you and your witnesses attesting to the validity of the will.
If your will does not meet your state’s legal requirements, it might be held invalid by a court. In this case, state law determines how your estate is managed.
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Best Comprehensive Estate Plan: Total Legal
No online access for executors
Accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2003 and carrying an A+ rating, TotalLegal is part of Pro Se Planning, Inc., which provides self-guided legal products, including estate planning and business formation documents. Customers can purchase and complete individual estate planning documents starting at $19.95 for a last will and testament, which is available in your online account for 60 days .
The biggest advantage of TotalLegal is its yearly subscription plan. For $89 a year, you get access to free legal services, including a free consultation, attorney-reviewed documents, and a free will with free updates each year, providing the most comprehensive resources for those needing some guidance.
Document creation is simple, as youll go through a series of questions to inform and complete your document, which can then be downloaded and printed. TotalLegals help center has extensive information, though you can always call or email customer support if you have any questions.
There are discounted services that include creating a simple will with a trust. You’ll also get access to their document storage vault service, where there are no storage limits.
What Is A Personal Representative
A personal representative is the person who oversees payment of your debts and distribution of your assets according to your will. A personal representative is considered a fiduciary. This means that he or she must observe a high standard of care when dealing with the estate. You should identify a personal representative by name in your will. Most people choose their spouse, an adult child, a relative, a friend, a trust company, or an attorney to fulfill this duty, but anyone can be named personal representative in a will. Since your personal representative will handle your assets, you should always pick someone you trust.
You may also appoint more than one personal representative. When there is more than one personal representative, all representatives must agree on any decision regarding the estate unless the will provides otherwise.
If no personal representative is named in a will, a judge will appoint one for you to oversee the distribution of your assets.
Responsibilities usually undertaken by a personal representative include:
- Filing your will, an inventory of your assets, and other documents with the court
- Paying valid creditors
- Notifying Social Security and other agencies and companies of the death
- Canceling credit cards, magazine subscriptions, and similar consumer items and
- Distributing assets according to your will.
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