do i need a lawyer for a will

Preparing Your Will: 8 Important Checklist Items to Consider

Sixty percent of Americans admit to not having a will prepared. 

Preparing a will is a task many people will put off because they believe they still have many years to live. But unless you can predict the future, you should prepare a will now just in case. 

There are many important reasons for having a will. Having a will can prevent family disputes, provide for your loved ones, plan for your funeral arrangements. 

By now you probably understand the importance of drawing up a will, but what should you actually include in it? Here are eight checklist items to include in your will.

1. Assets

When wondering what to put in a will, assets are probably the first things that come to mind. 

Here are a few assets to consider when writing out your will:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Retirement funds
  • Cars, boats, or real property
  • Royalties or copyrights

This is not an all-inclusive list. There are many other things you can consider as an asset, ranging from frozen embryos to social media accounts that generate income. 

2. Guardianship

Guardianship is one of the most important aspects of a will. 

If you have children, choosing a person to take guardianship of them if you die is no easy task. The most obvious option is the child’s other parent, but in the event that both of you pass,  there should be an alternative guardian declared. 

Consider close family members and friends. Choose someone you think would be responsible and love your child as their own.

The most important thing to do is to ask their permission first and see how they feel about the idea. If they do not wish to take on guardianship, don’t include them in your will anyway. This isn’t fair to them or your child. 

While not as common, many people choose to also include guardianship of pets in their will. 

3. Real Property

While some may include this with their assets, real property is another one of the big things to include in a will.

this includes your primary residence, any vacation or rental homes, and any other owned properties. You can assign that a specific real property is left to certain beneficiaries.

You can also decide that all your real property is to be sold and the profits divided up among your beneficiaries. This can make things more equal if you have multiple beneficiaries. 

4. Specific and Residuary Bequests 

When putting together a will, you shouldn’t forget about any specific bequests. 

Do you have a family heirloom that you’ve promised to a specific family member? What about gifting each of your grandchildren a specific amount of cash for their college fund? These are considered specific bequests. 

Once all specific bequests and real property is taken care of, you can then choose residuary bequests. This involves any remaining assets being divided among beneficiaries. So after your specific requests, you can choose to have all your assets divided equally among all your children. 

5. Alternate Beneficiaries

It’s always a good idea to name alternate beneficiaries in your will. 

While you may want a specific family member or spouse to be your beneficiary, there is a possibility that they won’t be alive when you die. In this case, you should name alternate beneficiaries. 

You can name one or multiple people as an alternate beneficiary. You can also choose to make a specific charity an alternate beneficiary. 

6. Business Assets

Don’t forget about any business assets when putting together your will. 

If you own a business, you want to make sure it is taken care of in the event of your death. You don’t want your employees showing up to work one day unsure of what to do with the company. Instead, include your business assets in your will. 

You can choose to name a business beneficiary to take over the business, be it a family member or an employee. You could also choose to have the business sold off and the profits given to your employees or family members. 

Either way, be specific about all of your business assets. 

7. Debts and Taxes

To minimize work later on for your loved ones, also consider any debts or taxes you may owe. 

Plan out how any debts you owe are to be handled. Don’t forget about probate costs, real estate tax, and inheritance tax. 

You can also include funeral expenses and specific funeral plans in this section of your will. It’s best to have these things planned and handled ahead of time.  

The easiest way to take care of this is to mark a specific bank account or amount of cash be left to handle these expenses. 

8. An Executor

The final, but extremely important thing you should include in your will is an executor. 

An executor is a person who is in charge of making sure your will is carried out according to your specific wishes. They handle dividing up all your assets and any other aspect of your will. 

The executor can also be in charge of your end-of-life decisions, including do-not-resuscitate orders. 

Just like with your beneficiaries, it’s advised that you also name an alternate executor. Your first choice for executor may be deceased or choose to decline the responsibility. 

Need Help Preparing Your Will?

Now that you know the eight main things to include in your will, it’s time to prepare yours. 

It’s important to seek legal help when preparing a will. There are plenty of free resources online that claim they make will preparation easy. But the truth is, these documents aren’t state specific and don’t account for everything. 

To avoid mistakes and hassle down the line for your loved ones, seek professional legal help when preparing your will. A professional is able to answer all your last will and testament questions. 

Not sure where to go for professional legal help? Visit our online database to find the best family attornies in your location.