When creating your Last Will and Testament it is important to follow all of the necessary steps to ensure that it will be valid and legally binding.
List Your Assets
The first step of any estate plan is to list all of your assets. These are the items you intend to leave to your beneficiaries. There are some items, such as Payable on Death accounts or life insurance, that will generally not but subject to the terms of your Will. For assets that you do not want to subject to the time and cost of public probate proceedings required by a Will speak to a qualified estate planning attorney about possible alternatives, i.e. a living trust, .
Name Your Beneficiaries
Next, you must name your beneficiaries. If you intend to leave a spouse out of your Will, you must understand what inheritance rights the spouse may have and if the spouse could claim some of your estate despite your choice. When naming a beneficiary you should also name a back-up beneficiary in case that beneficiary predeceases you or dies at the same time.
Name an Executor
Naming an executor or executrix, also known as a Personal Representative, is an essential part of the Will. This is the person who will follow the instructions in your Will and will settle your estate. You should also list the authority that you wish to grant the Personal Representative when administering your estate. It is best to advise your Personal Representative in advance of your decision to appoint him or her.
Choose a Guardian
If your children are minors, you can use your Will to appoint a guardian. This person will care for the children and manage the estate for thier benefit. In your Will you can also appoint a separate person to manage your children’s inheritance until they are old enough to receive it.
Perhaps the most important part of creating your Will is making sure it is properly executed. Each state will have laws that govern the proper execution of your Will to ensure that it will be valid and binding. To ensure your Will is valid and binding it is best to work with a qualified estate planning attorney who can assist to comply with your state’s execution requirements.
Once your Will is complted store it in a safe deposit box, home safe, or other secure location and advise your Personal Representative of the location.
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