May 15, 2023
A will is an important document most people don’t want to think about, but it’s crucial to have in place to protect your assets and ensure your loved ones receive what you want them to.
It can be wise to have a lawyer write up the documents in your will to keep everything legally sound and eliminate any confusion. Before approaching a lawyer and putting pen to paper, think through the items below. Keep in mind your will won’t come together in a day because it can take time to make these critical decisions.
Unless you explicitly specify who it should go to, your money will most likely go to the state. To prevent this, account for every penny. Make sure to cover all your accounts and investments. Speak with your financial advisor and have them compile a thorough list of your financial assets so you don’t forget anything. Here are examples of what to cover in your will:
Real estate can be tricky to outline in a will. Property isn’t as cut-and-dry as a trail of financial assets. Some people have multiple property investments or multiple beneficiaries, which can complicate the equation. The more specific you are in the will, the less likely it will be there are complications in your absence. Here are questions to ask your lawyer about including real estate in your will. Be aware that state laws can vary on this topic.
Managing outstanding debts after a death of can cause a lot of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be that way. First, debts are not always the legal obligation of your heirs. Oftentimes the proceeds from an estate sale will go toward paying off your debts first. Here is a helpful breakdown of what kind of debt will still need to be paid off and what will go away upon your death. Work with your financial advisor to pay off outstanding debt so that your estate sale proceeds can go directly to your beneficiaries.
Most people think about large items, such as financial assets and property, but don’t forget about your personal possessions. Take inventory of your jewelry, furniture, and other items that you want to be left to a loved one. It’s important to do so because your assets could be taken and auctioned to repay your debt unless you specify who you want them to be left to. Have any high-value items appraised if you want the proceeds from the sale of your possessions to go to someone specific.
Executor or witness
An executor of a will is the person you choose to administer your estate. They do not need to be a beneficiary, just someone who can take care of your estate after you die. This is not the same as a power of attorney, which is someone who can take care of your estate while you are alive if you become unable to care for yourself. It’s often advised that you name someone with no personal interest in the matter, such as an estate planning attorney.
If you choose to write your own will, which is not often advised, you will need someone present to witness you signing and agreeing that the document is correct. Be sure to research the law in your state because some states do not allow heirs to be witnesses.
Alongside your will, you should keep these important pieces of paper handy and accessible for your executor so that they can more easily access your accounts and assets.
No one wants to think about drafting a will, but it’s important to be proactive so you can rest assured that everything will be handled properly in your absence.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
This article was prepared by ReminderMedia.
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