If you’re thinking about making a will, here are few things that you should think about before drafting the will (or having an attorney help you think about these things and draft the will for you):
1. What assets will you be putting in the will?
Take an inventory of your significant assets. These should be the things that you want to give to other people and hopefully, these are the things that other people want to get from you. (I suggest the garage sale test – if you’d include it in your garage sale someday, skip it). Note – there are some assets that cannot be passed by your will – and your lawyer should know what those things are (and why they shouldn’t be included in your will).
2. Who will you be giving your assets to?
For the most part, this is a very straightforward task. A few notes, though – first, there are some restrictions on your ability to disinherit certain relatives. Second, you should think about where you want your assets to go if your first choice is not around or refuses your generosity.
3. Who will administer your will?
This person is called the executor. There are really only two qualifications for an executor or trustee. First, you want a person of impeccable integrity. Second, you want a person with good common sense. You also want to make sure that this person is aware of your desire for them to serve as executor (and are agreeable to that role) and as always, have a back-up in mind.
4. Who will care for your children?
If you have children under the age of 18, you’ll want to think about who will take care of you children, should you die before your kids are adults. This section requires more thought and explanation than I can give you here in a blog post, but guardianship is an important concept that requires much thought. For instance, will your chosen guardian have sufficient assets to raise your children?
5. Who will care for your children’s assets?
In addition to choosing a guardian for your children’s welfare, you need to think about who will care for the assets that you leave to your children if they are still minors. This person is known as a trustee.
6. Who will witness the execution of your will?
The decision of who these people will be is not as important as following the necessary procedure to ensure that your will…will be deemed valid and enforceable.