Fifty-six percent of Americans die without a will, which creates a problematic situation for family members when dealing with death’s financial and emotional turmoil.
A will is a document that ensures your final wishes are granted and that your loved ones don’t have to deal with additional stress in a time of grief.
It may seem counterintuitive to think about your death, but it is still essential to create a will. If you haven’t yet, take some time to consider the dos and don’ts of putting a will together. Your family could end up in a strained relationship if you don’t leave them with clear instructions.
So what do you need to know what to put in a will? Here’s everything.
Do Consider Your Property and Money
Consider all your assets and debts when creating a will. Keep the property and money in mind when deciding what to put in your will. It includes your home, any other property you own, savings and investments, and any outstanding debts.
Do name a specific executor who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes in your will and testament. This person should be someone you trust to handle your finances and property.
Estate planning legal services attend to anyone who wants to safeguard their family and assets.
Do Know What to Put in a Will About Beneficiaries
Make sure you are clear and specific about who you want to receive. It can be helpful to list your assets and who you would like to receive each.
Do keep your will and testament up to date. As your life changes, your will should reflect those changes.
Don’t put any conditions on your gifts. If you want someone to receive something only if they meet specific criteria, it’s best to set it up as a trust rather than put it in your will.
Don’t Incorporate Business Interests
While it may seem like a good idea to put your business interests in your will so that they can be protected after you’re gone, it’s actually not a good idea. This is because if you put your business interests in your will, they will become subject to probate.
So, if you have business interests, it’s best to keep them out of your will. There are other ways to protect your business interests, such as setting up trusts or making sure that your business is properly incorporated. Talk to an attorney to find out what the best option is for you.
Don’t Include Personal Wishes and Desires
Personal wishes and desires are one such thing. While it is perfectly fine to state your final wishes in your will, such as who you want to be your pallbearers or what type of service you would like, you cannot include detailed instructions on how you want your assets divided. This is something that should be taken care of in a separate document, called a trust.
Benefits of Having a Will
In short, when drafting your will, be sure to include critical individuals in your life, as well as your final wishes. Furthermore, keep your will in a safe and accessible place. And finally, be sure to review your will periodically to ensure that it still meets your needs.
By following these simple guidelines on what to put in a will, you can ensure that your will is up to date and meets your needs.
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Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.