Will Preparation: What to Consider

Posted by J. Matthew Bolton on September 13th, 2018

Planning a will can be a daunting task, and there are many things to consider when beginning preparations. This process can become burdensome if you do not know which steps to take. To alleviate any potential anxieties, a checklist is oftentimes beneficial to ensure all categories are covered.

Experts say that every individual should have an estate plan, of which the will is the most basic part. An estate plan can also include a healthcare directive (also known as a medical power of attorney), a financial power of attorney, and possibly a trust.

Executors

Upon creating a will, you will need to determine an individual that will serve as an executor for your estate. The executor is a personal representative that is chosen to finalize the decedent’s affairs, which includes resolving all debts, and filing tax returns. The executor ideally should be a financially savvy individual, a trusted banker, or business person.

Guardianship & Trustees

If you have children, naming their legal guardian in the event of your death is a crucial part of the will process. Be as specific as possible when naming a guardian, and spell out any things that the executor needs to be made aware of, such as arrangements that would need to be made for children who have reached adulthood, but may have special needs that need to be accounted for.

It is advisable that clients do not choose the same individual to serve as both the legal guardian and a trustee, which is the individual who will be in charge of your child’s assets. If your children are older, and do not require a trustee, it is recommended that you seek out a financial planner, to assist your children in managing financial assets. If you are not accustomed to dealing with large sums of money, it can alleviate any burdens or questions your loved ones may have.

Beneficiaries

Consider who you would like to inherit your estate, after all debts have been resolved. When making beneficiary decisions, consider not just your loved ones, but friends, relatives, or organizations which have positively affected your life and you would like to support. The most common types of beneficiaries are: your spouse, children, extended family, or charities. If you’re married, your assets will most likely go to your spouse when you die. Remember to always be clear about property that you own outright, and that you own with another individual, such as a spouse or business partner. You can only give away your portion of what you own. Determine which beneficiaries that you would like to inherit specific items, such as treasured family heirlooms, and list this in your will.

Final Considerations

There are a few things to consider before drafting a will. First, you must be of “sound mind.” This means you understand the following:

  • What a will is
  • How to choose beneficiaries, an executor, and legal guardians for minors
  • What type and how much property you own
  • How to distribute your assets to beneficiaries

Avoid including certain assets in your will. Most likely, you chose beneficiaries when setting up life insurance and retirement policies, and annuities. Therefore, including these in the will can be unnecessary and redundant.

Protect your loved ones. Our step-by-step process will take you through all the things you need to consider when writing your will. If you have additional questions or would like to begin setting up your will, contact our knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorneys at Herndon, Coleman, Brading, & McKee at 423-434-4700 today.


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