Wills are one of the best ways to ensure that your possessions and assets are distributed how you desire after you pass away. A last will and testament allows your family members to execute your final wishes without having to guess how you would have liked your affairs handled. Deciding what to include in a will can be a challenging task. Many people are nervous that they may forget something or unintentionally exclude a beneficiary. Below, we discuss the top five primary topics you should cover when creating your will.
- Name a Personal Representative
Personal representatives have a very important role when executing a will. They are responsible for managing the estate bank account, valuing your assets, notifying creditors and beneficiaries about probate proceedings, and distributing your possessions to beneficiaries. Your personal representative is also the primary contact between your family and the court during probate proceedings. When deciding what to include in a will, naming a personal representative is one of the most important things you should include. Choose a close family member or friend who’s comfortable with the responsibility and gets along with most of your family members. You’ll want to consider speaking with your intended representative beforehand to ensure they can take on the task.
- Choose a Legal Guardian for Minor Children
When you have minor children in your home, naming a legal guardian to take care of them is one of the most important things to include in a will. No other estate planning document will allow you to name a guardian in the same fashion as a valid will can. If you don’t name a guardian for your children in your will, custody of them will most likely go to the surviving biological parent or a close relative who petitions for their custody if you pass away.
- Divide Your Possessions
Another item you’ll want to include in your will is naming beneficiaries for your most prized and cherished possessions. While it’s unnecessary to list out a beneficiary for every item you own, you’ll want to list who you’d like to receive many different types of assets in your will, such as family heirlooms, photographs, and jewelry. You’ll want to specify who is entitled to real property you left behind, such as cars, boats, RVs, and houses. If you own intellectual property or a business, you’ll want to include who will inherit those, also.
- Allocate Funds & Financial Asset Division
Dividing your financial assets is an essential part of what to include in your will. You’ll want to set aside funds for funeral expenses, charitable giving, and other causes that are important to you. You can also allocate funds to friends and family members for specific purposes, such as higher education tuition for your grandchildren.
- Write a Letter of Instruction
A letter of instruction is a valuable document for your friends and family members to help execute your will, though it’s not legally required. This letter should contain information that will help your family access your assets. This could include banking information, safety deposit boxes, and contact information for lawyers and bankers. You can describe the location of important documents in your home, safe combinations, and online account passwords. You can also use this letter to state your preferences for burial and funeral arrangements and address your family and friends one last time.
Amending a Will
Forget something after you draft your will, or need to include additional assets or beneficiaries? Wills can be modified and revoked after they are created. There are two options to modify a will. First, you can create an entirely new will and revoke the old one. You should then destroy previous versions of the will. The second way to modify a will is to create a codicil (also called an amendment). Codicils are added to the original will and allow you to change one specific element of the will without voiding the entire document. Just like when you created the will, codicils should be signed by you and two witnesses to be legally valid. It’s a good idea to review your will every three to five years and make updates as necessary.
What to Include in a Will: Estate Planning With The Boutty Law Firm
Don’t stress over what to include in a will. Our legal team at The Boutty Law Firm can help you draft your will and other estate planning documents. Ease the burden of handling your estate with a comprehensive estate plan. From will creation to trust formation, we can help you plan for the future. Call us today at (407) 622-1395 or contact us online to learn how we can help you with your estate planning needs.