Many people avoid having a will. The major consequence of not having a legally enforceable will is that the people you want to receive your property may, unfortunately, not receive it. This may occur because the will was not properly made, because of statutory requirements protecting spouses and children, or for many other reasons.
Your will is an important aspect of your life and, as with other important aspects of life, it should be planned, organized, and controlled. Here is a list of necessary information that will help you make decisions regarding the terms of your last will and testament and that will also help me to be responsive to your needs when preparing this very important document:
- List of persons to whom you want your property to be given upon your passing.
- Include each person’s relationship to you, contact information such as address, telephone numbers, place of employment and possibly their social security number.
- Include, in the event they predecease you, whether your property will go to their children, to their estate, or not be given at all.
- Consider whether the beneficiary will be able to properly handle a large amount of money or whether it would be better for a trustee to manage the money and provide an income. This need may occur with young children or with a beneficiary who may be unduly influenced by others.
- A detailed list of your assets. Filling out our Confidential Information Form can help accomplish the following: lists your assets by categories; shows how the assets are titled– whether solely or jointly; provides a calculator that adds up each category and provides the total sum of all assets. This inventory form also identifies where the assets are located and includes space to insert account numbers. This list, properly completed, includes all assets so that either I or the personal representative who administers your estate can locate your entire estate so that an asset is not overlooked.
- Desired arrangements for funeral/memorial and care/disposition of remains. When meeting with me, you will be asked your desire with regard to funeral arrangements, disposition of remains, and related concerns.
- Family tree with names and addresses of the family members.
- Consider where you will want the original document kept for safekeeping? Will it be filed with the Register of Wills in your county as a confidential document, left in my safekeeping, or placed in a safe deposit box with an additional person whom you trust named as a co-tenant on the box? Upon your passing, if you solely own the safe deposit box, attorney’s fees and court costs will be incurred in order to obtain a court order to have the box opened. In addition, there will be a cost incurred to have a locksmith drill the box open. Your will (the original document) should not be kept at home, even if you keep it in a box that alleges it will withstand high levels of heat, because if the house and contents burn, it will likely burn also.
- Be flexible in your meeting with your attorney as it takes time to thoroughly understand your options and your wishes in regard to the administration of your estate, i.e., who you want to administer your estate (to be your personal representative or executor) and the person or persons who will succeed the personal representative (executor) in the event your personal representative/ executor predeceases you, becomes disabled or, because of circumstances, decides to decline the job.