What to Include in a Will
Among the most important documents you’ll create throughout your lifetime, a will may be the most vital. Regardless of your age, having a will ensures that your property and any assets you own go to the right place following your passing away.
While the thought of dying is never fun, it will happen one day, and not having a will in place means that the court will decide who assumes ownership of your property and assets. To prevent this, you’ll want a well-structured will with all the necessary requirements.
Your Personal Information
You’ll want to start out by including all your personal information. Such information includes:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Any aliases you might go by
- Names of any immediate family members–especially those you’ll name as beneficiaries
The Right Verbiage
While it might sound old-fashioned, every will should have language that clearly indicates that it’s a will. This means you’ll want to start off your will with a statement like, “This is my last will and testament.” While this alone won’t make your will necessarily legally binding, it’s still crucial to have.
This is the part that most people think about when writing their will. Your goal with this section is to ensure your assets/property goes to the right party(s).
To make this process easier, it’s smart to do an inventory of all the items you own before drafting your will. While you don’t have to literally include every single item, anything of significant monetary/sentimental value should be included and clearly designated to go to the right party.
Often people write a will in conjunction with a trust simply because some items can’t be placed into a trust.
Your beneficiaries are who will receive your property/assets following your passing away. You can include one or multiple parties:
- Organizations like a business or charity
- Contingent beneficiaries in case a primary beneficiary dies before you do
You’ll also want to name an executor. An executor’s job is to handle several affairs after your death/incapacitation such as managing your taxes and bills. While it’s uncommon for an executor to also be a beneficiary, sometimes it’s not recommended. Ultimately, you’ll want someone responsible and, depending upon your assets, someone who is business-savvy.
If you have minor children you’ll also want to name someone as a guardian in case you pass away before your children become of age. This can also apply to disabled/elderly adults you’re taking care of. Of course, you’ll want to speak with such a party before you name them as a guardian.
Signatures and Witnesses
Lastly, you’ll need to sign your will and most likely have witnesses present. Although witnesses aren’t always required in the case where there’s a hand-written will, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, handling the actual drafting and ensuring a will is enforced can be a complicated process. To make the process easier, you can enlist the help of a wills lawyer. Our friends at Carpenter & Lewis PLLC have lawyers ready to assist!