What to Include in a Will: 9 Important Things to Remember

There are several things to remember when writing a will. If you would like to learn what to include in a will, you should click right here.      

Having a will exempts you from federal estate tax for the first $5.45 million of your estate. The estate tax rate for the remainder could reach 40%. 

Other than the estate tax exemption, having a will has a host of other benefits. 

It allows you to decide the distribution of your estate and minors’ guardianship. A will further helps to avoid lengthy court processes.

For your will to be legally acceptable, there are several things to consider. Keep reading to know what to include in a will. 

1. Guardianship

As a parent, one of the primary reasons for creating a will is to ensure that your children will have a guardian when you’re no more. 

A will allows you to name a preferred guardian for your young ones. Before they become legal adults, they will need someone to look after them, a matter that should be made clear in the will.  

If you don’t write a will, the state will dictate who will take care of your children, your preferences notwithstanding. 

The law might choose a close relative or a spouse, who doesn’t have the best of interest for your kids. Selecting a guardian and spelling it out on your will ensures that your children remain with someone you trust.  

2. Heirs to Your Assets 

Assets top the list on what to include in a will. 

Your essential assets will go to the right people if there’s a will in place. A will needs to be clear on who gets what. 

Specify the property and the heir. 

If you have several real estate properties, describing them succinctly will deter potential conflicts in the future. 

You should also indicate if there are assets, you want to direct to charities or friends. 

Your first choices shouldn’t be final. Choosing alternatives beneficiaries, commonly known as contingent, is recommendable. Some of the chosen heirs might not survive you. 

It is also common for people writing wills to include the beneficiaries of their residue. 

The residue refers to a share of the remaining estate’s total value. Specify whether the money you bequeath someone is from a specific legacy or residual estate.

If you opt for family trusts, it will help to have the best lawyer to guide you on the process. 

Family trusts can take the place of a will. You need to be conversant with the pros and cons of this option when dividing your assets.

3. The Chosen Executor 

When you’re writing a will, the name of the executor should be part of this vital document. 

An executor refers to the person who’s legally responsible for ensuring that all your directions and wishes are met. A backup executor is also necessary due to any eventualities that might hamper the designated executor from performing. 

An executor’s role is indispensable. 

Your executor needs to understand the will before filing it with the probate court. Once you die, your executor will inform relevant government agencies, credit card firms, and banks that you worked with. 

If some taxes or debts need payment, the executor takes up the responsibility. They further maintain your property until it is time to sell or distribute. 

The executor distributes the assets as per your wishes on the will.

Considering the sensitive nature of the responsibilities of an executor, appointing someone you’re confident in is essential. You might also decide to have an institution as your executor. 

The chosen executor should be willing to take up all assigned roles. 

4. Funeral Instructions 

Specifying your funeral and body disposal wishes is essential. 

You can include a brief paragraph on the will indicating whether you desire cremation or burial. Indicate your wishes on how you want your remains handled and whether you’re pro organ donation. 

While the instructions about your funeral are not legally binding, your loved will mostly do things as per your final wishes. Nonetheless, your chosen executor can have a differing decision on how to handle your remains and a funeral. 

Funeral decisions can spare your family the distress of making such decisions. 

It would be advisable to share your funeral wishes with your executor or family. In most cases, a will is read after all the funeral plans are in place. Without the information, your funeral might go contrary to your desires. 

5. Specify the Payment of Taxes, Expenses, and Debts

In 2016, 73% of consumers died with debt, with about 68% of them being credit card balances. 

With the prevalence of debts, from student loans to mortgages, dying with debts or unpaid taxes isn’t surprising. If you’re unclear on how to go about paying the debt, creditors might go after your property. 

If you’ve been wondering what to include in a will, debt and tax payments should also feature. 

The last thing you want is to leave your family homeless if the creditors decide to take over all your property. 

In most instances, the bank account comes in handy when settling these expenses. 

6. Caring for Pets

The attachment you have with your pets would necessitate you to live them with the right person. Such information should be on the will so that the specific person knows what’s expected of them. 

Don’t assume that everyone loves pets. It would help to check with the individual in question before handing them the responsibility. 

Outline all the special instructions on caring for the pet. 

If you want to leave a fortune to your pet, a trust can work. You’ll also need a caretaker to ensure that the animal has the best care. 

When You Know What to Include In a Will, the Process Will Appear Less Daunting

Writing a will is not a pleasant activity. 

The thought of your imminent demise can be devastating. Yet, the relief after that is worth this noble act.

You need to know what to include in a will, so that it’s admissible. Working with an attorney through the process can help you know how to go about it.

Keep exploring our site for more topics on finances and other assets. 

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