Preparing a will is one of the most important parts of the estate plan. This document is what your Executor will follow in order to handle your assets. Each state has its own formalities which must be followed in order for a will to be legally enforceable. What should you include in your will?
A will should include your beneficiaries. These are the people who you choose to leave your property to, such as your loved ones, family members, and friends.
Most people will choose beneficiaries based on who is closest to them in life. You may, for example, want to name a spouse, children, or close relatives. You may want to list friends or neighbors who have had a meaningful impact in your life. You may also choose a beneficiary that is an organization, such as giving money to a charity of your choice after your death.
You also need to address your assets in the will. This includes money, savings accounts, trusts, property, possessions and vehicles, and any other property you own at the time of your death.
Some property may pass outside your will such as jointly owned property or property which names a beneficiary upon your death.
Bequests are gifts of personal property and devises are gifts of real property. These gifts are made after payment of your debts are made to any existing creditors of your estate, including payment of any taxes due.
You will appoint an Executor in your will. This person is entrusted by you to handle the administration of your estate according to your will and in compliance with the law.
Care of the body
Finally, in your will, you may state how you wish your body to be handled after your death, whether you want a funeral, and what sort of service you wish for. You may donate your body for scientific purposes.
It is best to also include these wishes in your Health Care Power of Attorney along with your wishes for end of life care. Some states also provide for a separate document specifically for the purpose of stating these wishes.
We highly recommend discussing these wishes with your Executor and family so that you know that they are aware of your wishes and willing to carry them out.