No matter your age, having a will is vitally important. A will ensures that all of your property and assets go to the right place if you die. While the thought of dying isn’t a fun one, it’s worth making proper arrangements just in case. After all, if you die without a will in place, a court will decide possession of your property.
As we’ve discussed, a will doesn’t cover everything but is essentially the core level of documentation you should have in place. To adequately protect yourself and your family, it’s wise to have a complete estate plan in place to ensure everything is taking care of. This can include the creation of a trust, in addition to your will.
What are the Most Important Things to Put in a Will?
It’s important to note that while there are online programs that exist to create your own will, they are not nearly as good as going through an estate planning attorney. We’ve seen many scenarios where an online will was challenged, didn’t hold up, or didn’t include what the person likely thought it did. Cutting corners is never advised when it comes to estate planning that determines the future of your family.
Let’s look at some of the basics that should be included in your will as you work on it with an attorney.
This should go without saying, but your will should include basic information about you to be official. This includes your full name, date of birth, and address. If you have any aliases, it would be smart to include those as well. The names of your immediate family should also be included in the documentation.
Last Will and Testament Verbiage
Every will needs to include language that makes it a will. It will often include, “This is my last will and testament.” This makes it clear that the document is a will and should be carried out as such.
Property and Assets
A will does overarching coverage of your assets, helping ensure that they go to the right people upon your death. It can work in conjunction with a trust, but some items cannot be put in a trust. Therefore, you must have a will and ensure that the proper items go to who you want. Often, individuals will break out certain assets, belongings, real estate, and money to be left to specific beneficiaries. It is possible to leave everything to one person if there is no detail desired.
If you’ve listed out all of the assets and property you want to be transferred, you will also need to list the individuals they should be given to, known as beneficiaries. The beneficiary of your will can be family and friends, but it can also be a business or charity instead of an individual. It may be wise also to name contingent beneficiaries if the primary beneficiary dies before you do.
An executor will need to be named to carry out multiple duties after your death. This includes carrying out the terms of the will and managing other affairs, like bills and taxes. If there is not an executor named, the court may have to name someone for you, or someone would need to apply.
If there are children that are still minors, you may name someone as a guardian of them should you and your spouse pass away unexpectedly. This also applies to a disabled or elderly adult that you may be caring for.
In addition to signing the will yourself, there will also need to be witnesses. In some cases, a hand-written will does not need witness signatures, but it’s best to have it properly made out and filed.
If you need a simple will or full estate plan, Collins Law Firm is a trusted estate planning law firm based in Wauwatosa, serving Milwaukee and the surrounding communities.