If providing for your loved ones and the causes you care about, like the VFW, after your lifetime is a priority to you, a will can reflect your wishes. If you have not yet created a will, consider the effects of leaving your estate in the hands of your state’s laws.

Regardless of your will’s current status, learn more by reading the six critical questions that estate planning attorneys hear most.

Q: What can I give away in my will?
A: A will provides for the distribution of certain property owned in your individual name at the time of your passing — cash, real estate, artwork and heirlooms, for instance — and generally you may dispose of such property in any manner you choose. A will does not govern the transfer of certain types of assets, like jointly held property or assets with beneficiary designations, such as retirement plan assets.

Q: Why would I need to adjust my will?
A: Chances are, your personal and financial situation has changed over time. You should review and possibly revise your will if you move to another state, get married or remarried, divorce or buy or sell a business.

Q: How do I change my will?
A: If you would like to make a simple change to your will, such as providing for veterans, you can do so through a document called a codicil. Your estate planning attorney can help you with this process.

Q: Can I use my will to handle my insurance policy benefits?
A: It is not recommended that you name your estate as beneficiary of your life insurance benefits. If you do, you may expose the proceeds of the policy to additional taxes, estate administration expenses and creditors. If you no longer need the policy, consider using it to support veterans in need. Simply name the VFW as the policy beneficiary.

Q: Will my heirs have to pay inheritance tax?
A: An inheritance tax is a state tax that a beneficiary pays when he or she receives assets from an estate. Whether your heirs have to pay an inheritance tax depends on the state in which you live. Only six states currently collect inheritance taxes (Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania).

Q: What happens to my estate if I do not have a will?
A: Without a will, your state’s laws — not you — determine how, when and to whom your property is distributed.


A gift from your will to the VFW is a powerful way for you to stand strong with veterans. If you would like more information about how to include the VFW in a new or existing will, please contact Chrissy Mason at (816) 968-1119 or plannedgiving@vfw.org.