A will can accomplish many different legal tasks, including naming heirs, naming guardians for minor children, and naming an executor to take care of your estate. Many people can get by with a simple will that has a few important provisions. You can even draft your own Will as long as you carefully follow state specific instructions for execution and drafting. If you have questions, come see a qualified Estate Planning Attorney. Here is what your Will needs to include.
Choose Who Receives Your Property…Who Gets What
Many people will want to leave all of their property to their spouse or children. This is standard. Here is what you don’t usually think about.
First, you may want to spell out what should happen if one of your beneficiaries passes away before you do. We often see people who leave all of their estate to one beneficiary and forget to include a back up plan. In many cases, you can simply state that their share will be divided equally among the remaining heirs based on current intestacy laws. Don’t forget your backup plan.
You may also want to include a survival clause. For example, if you both you and your spouse are involved in an accident, there is a possibility that your assets could have to go through probate twice if one of you passes away shortly after the other spouse does. You can designate a longer survival period to avoid this problem. Standard survival is 120 hours or 5 days for the math majors out there.
Name an Executor…Who is the Boss
The executor is in charge of administering the estate. Many people choose a family member or someone else with the necessary skills to complete this task. This person needs to be trustworthy and should immediately move to secure the Estate after you die.
You should also consider choosing a backup executor just in case your primary executor is unable to serve or refuses or resigns. This position does require some legal or business knowledge, so make sure you choose someone with those skills.
Other Important Will Language
The following are a few additional things you should include in your last will and testament:
- State that you are revoking all prior wills to avoid a potential conflict between the new will and a prior will.
- Include a residuary clause, which controls what happens to all property not specifically mentioned in the will. This ensures that any property you acquire after drafting the will is still distributed to your designated heirs.
- If you have minor children or a trust, you should name any trustees and guardians in your will.
Every family is unique, and very few Wills are “simple.” If you have questions about what to include in your will, give us a call and let us craft a plan for your family.
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