At some point in our lives, we all need to draft a Will. Your Will is a list of your final wishes and how you want things to be handled when you pass away. 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 include assets you own with someone else. Then 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.
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:
Your list should also include the following items, but you should speak with an expert about them before drawing up your final Will:
Some assets are easy to handle, and some take a little thinking about. Here is how we recommend you review your assets.
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.
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.
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 and make any changes that you need to and then document it in your Will.
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.
Guardianship of your pets and children should be an ongoing conversation, and your Will should be updated as life goes on. Make sure anyone you are considering as guardians for all of your children is kept in the conversation.
Finally, there are some assets that you cannot include in your Will. They include:
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