Thinking about your own mortality is not fun, but leaving behind instructions about how you want your personal belongings distributed is important.
Understanding your estate planning options requires a discussion with a trusted estate planning lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer. A good attorney can help you decide what the best path forward is for your estate plan.
1. Select your executor
Your executor, or personal representative, is the individual who will make sure your wishes for distribution are kept. This is an important role and you need to trust this person completely. Many people choose their bank, but banks usually charge a fee for this service.
2. Name your beneficiaries
When you die someone will get your money, your personal possessions, and any real property you may have owned. Most people don’t have to think long and hard about who they want to name as beneficiaries. Usually that list includes:
- Other relatives
- Close friends
It’s a good idea to provide full names and not simply say you want to leave your book collection to Johnny. There are many Johnny’s around, so full names can help locate heirs.
3. Be specific
Along with naming each heir by their full name, you also need to be specific about what items you are leaving to each beneficiary. Leaving your golf clubs to your son sounds easy enough, but what happens if you have two sets of golf clubs? Did you intend for your son to get both sets or only one set? If you only intended for him to get one set, what did you intend to happen with the other set?
It’s these types of questions that your estate planning attorney can help you tackle. You can create a full estate plan that leaves nothing to chance if you do it with a skilled lawyer.
4. Execute the will properly
Every state has laws about what makes a will valid. Some states require two witnesses and a notary public, while other states only require witnesses. Some only require a notary public. Make sure you know what makes your will valid.
It’s important to note that if you move to a new state you are not required to update your will. As long as your will was drafted and executed according to the state laws where you lived at the time, your will is valid.
5. Update your will regularly
Despite not being legally required to update your will, it’s always good practice. Just like you get a regular physical, having a regular checkup on your will is prudent.
As you move through your life, you may have had more children, acquired more property, and accumulated more items you want to distribute to specific people. The only way to be certain these items go where you intend them is to update your will.
See an Attorney today
When you meet with a skilled and experienced estate planning attorney, you can rest assured your wishes and desires will be met. He or she will give you the guidance you need to ensure you have your estate plan drafted properly and that it conveys your wishes about how your assets should be distributed.