Most people tend to shy away from making a will simply because end-of-life considerations are not fun things to think about. At some point, however, you will need to take a deep breath and tackle the job. The good news is you do not need to do it alone. An attorney experienced in estate planning can be a great help, but you can do a bit of preparation work before your meeting. Here are four things-some logical, some surprising-to consider putting in your will.
Name an executor
Depending on the size of your estate, the executor you appoint will have a fairly easy time or be faced with a rather time-consuming responsibility. The main task of the executor will be to oversee distribution of assets to beneficiaries and pay any debts or taxes that remain upon your death. You might choose your spouse, an adult child or a trusted relative. A bank or an attorney could also serve as your executor. Talk it over with potential candidates, then make your decision.
List your assets, both traditional and digital
You probably think your assets just include bank accounts, credit cards, any investments you have and your retirement fund. Property is obviously an asset, but keep in mind that property owned jointly with a spouse falls outside the will. What you will want to do is to include any digital assets you might have, such as domain names and social media accounts, if they generate money.
Pets are property, too
The law considers Fido and Fluffy to be your property. Planning for their future would probably not be something you would give much thought to because the pets would remain with your spouse. If your spouse should predecease you, however, you will want to name new pet caretakers in your will so your best friends will have a good home if they should outlive you.
Name beneficiaries and alternate beneficiaries
It is thoughtful to make specific bequests of anything from personal possessions to cash to real estate. Children are the likely recipients, although you could make individual bequests to other relatives, friends, business associates, nonprofits and others. It is also a good idea to name alternates to receive certain bequests in the event the primary beneficiary does not survive you.
There are many considerations about what you should or should not include in your will, which is why meeting with an experienced attorney is important. With legal expertise clearing the way, the work will be done in no time, and you will feel proud of yourself for having completed this sober but necessary task.