At some point in our lives, we all need to draft a Will. You're never too young to draft your Will, and the best place to start is by making a list of everything you own - your assets - and any assets you might own with someone else. From here, you can decide how you want the assets to be distributed across your estate.
The more specific you are, the better prepared your family will be when the day comes.
Make Your List Of Assets First
So, how do you go about making this list of assets? Start by listing all of your assets and any debt you may have. This list should include:
- All of the assets that in your name
- Assets that could come to you in the future from investments or insurance
- Debts including your mortgage and any outstanding loans
- Any type of business interest or partnership
- All of the assets that you own with someone else, like a spouse or domestic partner
Your list could also include the following items, but you should speak with an expert about them before drawing up your final Will:
- Any property you may own that is overseas
- Assets that may have a mortgage or security of some type attached to them
- Life insurance benefits that are left after debts have been resolved
- Business assets
- Superannuation benefits
- Any shares in a company or family trust
Review Your List Of Assets And Outline How They Should Be Managed
Some assets are easy to handle, and some take a little thinking and planning. Here are some key areas to
1. Money That Can Be Used To Handle Outstanding Debt.
As much as we would love to leave all our cash to our children, it's not always possible. Allocate where the money will come from to pay for funeral expenses, medical expenses, probate costs and any other debt that may be left. This could be from savings, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.
Cash, checking accounts, savings accounts and money market accounts also need to be addressed. Double-check to make sure there is not Payable on Death (POD) designee on the accounts. If there is, your cash assets go right to that person. If there is no POD, mention how the cash is to be used in your Will.
2. Any Real Estate You May Own.
Do you own a home?
Do you own other property?
Are you a joint tenant or tenants in common?
You determine how real estate is handled, how the mortgage will be paid and who gets to live there. Of course, if you own the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship with your spouse or partner, the property goes to them, and you may not need to include it in your Will.
3. Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, And Anything That Is Not Part Of A Protected Retirement Account.
The nice thing about these assets is that you can assign them to individual beneficiaries or pool them together and give all your beneficiaries a slice of the pie. Review the beneficiaries on each policy, make any changes that you need to, and then document it in your Will.
4. Allocate How Your Other Possessions should be Handled.
Don't be afraid to be sentimental when thinking about your possessions and who may or may not be interested in having this little part of you. Of course, you can leave everything to one person or designate someone to help parse out your possessions. If you are going to be in financial straits when you pass, you may decide to give your beneficiaries one thing and sell the rest. Carefully consider how to handle these assets.
5. Who Will look after The Kids And Pets?
Guardianship of your children should be an ongoing conversation, and your Will should be updated as your life changes. A legal guardian is required for children under the age of 18 or dependents, and should you pass away without appointing a guardian; the Court will decide based on the next of kin.
What Assets Cannot Be Included in your Will?
Finally, there are some assets that you cannot include in your Will. They include:
- Compensation payments
- Assets from being a joint tenant
- Anything held in trust
- Some types of superannuation
- Certain types of physical property
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice