Planning for the future is an important part of keeping your family and your assets both safe, and estate planning is the time when you plan for the eventuality that everyone must face, by deciding exactly how your assets will be distributed after death. Your will does more than that, though. It also gives you the opportunity to plan out how you will provide for those closest to you after you are gone, and to name the people you trust to properly handle your final debts and conclude the final business of passing inheritances on to your beneficiaries. If you are looking to put together your first will, there is a short list of items you need to include, no matter who you are.
Must-have items in every will
1. Your executor: Many people name a close family friend or a trusted relative, but it can also be a good idea to pick a neutral party so that if there is any dispute about the contents of your will, the executor will not be involved with it.
2. Your disposition of assets: This is where you name the various beneficiaries of your estate and what assets or belongings they will inherit. This way the executor knows how to dispose of the bulk of your estate after its debts are handled.
3. Online legacy: Naming someone to handle your social media and deciding exactly what will become of it after you are gone has become a vital step in every will.
These basic necessities cover the bare minimum steps needed to ensure that your financial and personal affairs are concluded and that your assets and belongings go where you intended.
Other important items for your will
U.S. News & World Report put together a detailed guide to basic will preparation, and in it they identified a number of other common sections that are often included in wills. Some of them, such as the naming the guardians of any minor children, are absolutely essential if your family includes those particular features. The article also makes a few important points that anyone preparing a will should remember:
- Beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement funds pre-empt the will.
- Joint property with a spouse falls outside the will.
To make sure that your affairs are in order the way you intend and to steer clear of these and other potential pitfalls, it helps to talk to an attorney. By making use of expert legal advice, you are more likely to produce a will that has less chance of being challenged and that is easier to follow.