While nobody ever wants to entertain the thought of their own death, it is an inevitability that must be planned for ahead of time. One of the most important ways for you to plan your final affairs is to draft a thorough and legally sound last will and testament. This document will provide your surviving loved ones with clear instructions regarding how you want your property and assets to be distributed. But, like many legal matters, creating a will can be complex and somewhat confusing at first glance. Where do you even begin, and what exactly should you include within your will’s language? Our firm has put together a quick list of matters that must be addressed when drafting your will to ensure your wishes are properly memorialized.
- Decide what property to include: To begin, make a list of your significant assets and determine which you will include in your will and which you will distribute through other means. While real property, vehicles, and more may be included within your will, assets such as jointly-owned property, proceeds of a life insurance policy, or money in certain retirement accounts may require alternative methods to be distributed, such as a payable-on-death account or a living trust. Likewise, it is important to remember that if you are married, both you and your spouse must each make a separate will, and you may only leave your share of assets you jointly own with your spouse. An attorney can help you sort through your assets and determine the most appropriate method for each.
- Decide who will inherit your property: Once you decide which property to include, your next priority will be to determine who gets what. While this may seem relatively straightforward, things can get complicated if you are considering leaving certain individuals out of your will, such as your spouse or children. Once you decide, make sure to include alternate beneficiaries in case your first choices do not survive you.
- Name an executor: Every will must name someone to serve as an “executor” or “administrator” who will carry out its terms, including distributing your assets and ensuring that your final debts are paid. Make sure you choose someone you trust and that they are willing to serve this responsibility when the time comes.
- Choose guardians: If you have children younger than 18, it is imperative you decide who you want to raise them in the unlikely event that you and your child’s other parent should be unable to care for them. Prospective guardians must be at least 18 years of age and should have a genuine concern for your children’s welfare. It is also important to consider any special needs of your children, the health and financial stability of your chosen guardian, and whether or not they share the same values.
- Choose someone to manage your children’s property: If you have chosen to leave property or money to your minor children, you must also choose someone to manage whatever they inherit until they become of age. This person may be considered a property guardian, a property custodian, or a trustee depending on your state.
Prepare for the Future with Davidov Law Group
While many websites provide do-it-yourself will creation forms, they often contain legal loopholes or are so generic that they fail to cover all issues that may arise in the event of your death. At Davidov Law Group, our skilled Nassau County estate planning attorneys can walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a comprehensive will and estate plan, ensuring all aspects of your and your family’s future are covered.
To find out more about what our 25+ years of experience can do for you, call (516) 587-5555 or contact our office online today.