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How writing a will could save your family heartache

(NC)—Eva Gabrielsson was the long-term partner of the hugely successful Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Eva and Stieg were together 30 years. But when Larsson died, Eva inherited nothing.

Why? Because Stieg Larsson died intestate—he died without a will.

It is estimated that Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy books have sold over 70 million copies worldwide, generating many millions of dollars of income. But because Eva and Stieg never married, Eva received nothing from his estate, which went to Stieg's father and brother.

This is just one example of the kind of complication that can arise when you die without writing a will. Although your estate might not be the same size as Larsson's fortune, not writing a will could leave a legacy of trouble for your loved ones.

There are many good reasons to make writing a will a priority.

For one thing, you will know that your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes. You can make gifts of certain items (a painting perhaps, or a piece of jewelry) to specific family members who would treasure them most. And writing a will allows you to outline any preferences you might have for your own funeral.

You can also use your will to ensure that a portion of your estate goes to the charities you care most about like an animal shelter, local hospital or a human rights charity such as Amnesty International.

If writing a will is still on your to-do list, there's no better time to act than now for the simple reason that writing a will can bring you real peace of mind.

A free information package on wills is available from Amnesty International at 312 Laurier Avenue East, Suite 250, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 1H9.

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