What do I need to include in my will?
What do I need to include in my will? Can you know for certain what would become of your family and assets if you were to pass away tomorrow? Many people choose to adopt the notion that tomorrow is guaranteed, when that is simply beyond anyone’s knowledge – even if you are in good health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s figures on mortality, all unintentional injury deaths for 2018 attributed to 51.1 per 100,000 individuals. This number is inclusive of the common causes such as vehicle traffic deaths, unintentional falls, and accidental poisoning. Taking these unplanned means of death into consideration may be cause for concern, but they can also serve to support the necessity of putting a living will into place with the help of your lawyer.
What is a Living Will?
A living will—also referred to as an advance directive—is a document that allows you to explicitly specify your wishes and preferences in the event of an emergent or adverse situation. This essential entity serves not only yourself but also your family. As the individual, it allows you have the peace of mind knowing that you have expressly detailed your preferences and tied up as many “loose ends” as possible. For the individual’s family, it offers direction and comfort. During this stressful time, loved ones will have a sense of peace with the knowledge they are acting in accordance with your wishes and not left to their own devices in terms of your care.
How to Make a Will
As essential as it is to establish a will, knowing how to go about creating one is equally as critical. From delegating asset and property management, to selecting an individual of action and even the legitimizing technicalities – a helpful checklist for creating your will is included below:
1. Identify property to include in my will.
First things first, draft up a list of your significant property and assets. Contemplate which items to include in the will and which ones would be best to leave by other methods. This is particularly important for individuals who have a spouse, as only their share of assets may be granted in the event of death and each person makes their own will.
2. Who is the Executor to administer the estate?
Every will should specifically identify an individual to carry out the terms of the will, known as an “executor.” This should be someone whom you trust (they may also be a beneficiary) and is willing to serve, as the role of executor can be very time consuming. Ensure the individual is also capable of dealing with complex legal and financial matters with the assistance of lawyers and accountants, an experienced Will Lawyer can advise you on choosing a good executor.
3. Who are your beneficiaries?
Deciding who will inherit your property and assets can be as easy or as complex as you wish to make of it. Remember that there are no right or wrong ways to distribute your assets. Your beneficiaries may be whomever wish—your assets are yours to distribute as you see fit. It is also a wise decision to list alternative (contingent) beneficiaries as well if the first choice does not survive you.
4. Identify sentimental items you wish to go to particular people.
Leaving behind an inheritance isn’t just about monetary value—most people have sentimental items they wish to bestow upon individuals. These should all be outlined in your will to ensure that they are left with your intended recipient.
5. How to identify a guardian for your children if you die?
Should your children be minors, it is important to appoint a “testamentary guardian” in your will who shall make decisions about their long-term care. A guardian will also be responsible for their daily care and control of any surviving children under the age of 18 years. Discussing this responsibility with the person deemed the guardian is also highly important as they may also be a “property guardian” or a trustee. This specification grants the guardianship person authority over the child’s inheritance and property that you leave to them.
6. Might one of your beneficiaries have a disability?
If one of your beneficiaries has a recognized disability, a Disability Trust Will may be the best option to cater to their specialized care. This type of will is rather complex and it is highly advised that you seek out legal advice of your lawyer to ensure it is set up appropriately for their needs.
7. What becomes of any pets you have?
Trusted family or friends may wish to care for your pets, and you can put a simple clause in your will to leave your pet to them. In this scenario, you may consider leaving them a sum of money to assist in caring for your pet. Make sure you discuss this with them beforehand to ensure no unwarranted custody. Should no one come to mind or wish to assume responsibility, many charities exist that can re-home or care for your pets when you die; usually collecting a gift of money to cover associated costs.
8. If your estate is large, consider a testamentary trust.
When your assets and property is abundant, a Testamentary Trust Will may be more appropriate. This type of will establishes a Trust (or multiple Trusts) when you die which holds your assets. Your beneficiaries are then paid an income from the Trust throughout the course of a specified time and allotment as you deem fit.
9. Formally construct your will.
Once the previous topics are considered and solidified, it is time to draft your living will. You can finalize and complete this with the help of your family lawyer, Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. After making your will, it is necessary to sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses. Should you also use a self-proving affidavit, your signature is notarized as well.
10. Safely and confidently store your will.
Properly stowing your will is crucial as to protect the legitimacy and livelihood of your wishes in the event of the unexpected. Ensure that your executor is informed of the place of your will and how to access it when the time comes.
What do I need to include in my will? Ask Orlando Living Will Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr.
What do I need to include in my will? Reach out and ask us… We understand how simple living will mistakes or omissions can quickly turn into a disaster, resulting in litigation or probate. We aim to help our clients avoid common estate planning errors, thus protecting their assets, and effecting the efficient transfer of assets to the intended beneficiaries.
If you are dealing with any type of family law case, contact Attorney Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. to discuss how our attorneys can help you with your Trust Administration & Litigation, Probate Administration & Litigation, and Collaborative Divorce case. Call us at (407) 647-7887 or send us a message. You can also visit the offices of Attorney Aubrey Ducker Jr. Aubrey Ducker Jr. serves Orlando and surrounding areas.
What do I need to include in my will?