If you do not yet have a Will in place, you are not alone. Despite acknowledging the need for one, over half of all Americans do not have even a simple Last Will and Testament in place. If you are among them, there is no time like the present to get started on your Will. Toward that end, the estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP offer you some questions to ask yourself when you create your Will.
Last Will and Testament Basics
Before you start thinking about creating your Will, it helps to understand some Will basics. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows the Testator (the person executing the document) to make gifts of estate assets that will be fulfilled at the time of the Testator’s death. You can distribute all, or just some, of your estate using a Will. A Will is considered public record once it is submitted to probate after your death. Therefore, anyone may view the provisions of your Will. Probate is the legal process that follows your death and is used to ensure that your estate assets are identified, located, and eventually transferred to the intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of your estate.
Questions to Consider When Creating Your Will
- Who is the best person to appoint as my Executor? Do not make the common mistake of filling in the name of your spouse as the Executor of your estate without considering if he/she is the best choice. The Executor of your Will fulfills an important role in the probate of your estate that includes numerous, and varied, duties and responsibilities. Ideally, your Executor will have a legal and/or financial background. Appointing the wrong person to be your Executor can cause a delay in the probate of your estate and/or increased costs related to the probate process.
- What are my assets and liabilities? You probably have a rough idea what your net worth is; however, when it comes to creating a Will you need to know exactly what you own and what you owe. Making detailed lists, and keeping them with your Will, also makes the probate of your estate much easier when the time comes.
- Who do I want to inherit from my estate? This one may be obvious and not require much thought; however, there are some beneficiaries that people commonly do not think about on their own. Charities, for example, such as your church, may be included. Your family pet is another one that you may not have considered.
- Do I need to nominate a Guardian for my minor children? If you are the parent of young children, do not forget to nominate a Guardian for them when you create your Will because your Will is the only opportunity you have to let a judge know who you would want to take over the care of your minor child(ren) if a Guardian is ever needed. Even if you have yet to have a child, it is still a good idea to include a Guardian in your Will if there is a possibility you will become a parent in the future.
- Do I need an estate planning attorney to help me with my Will? Resist the temptation to use a DIY Will form you found on the internet. The time and money you think you will save will be meaningless to your loved ones when they are forced to spend time and money litigating your Will because of the mistakes and/or omissions in the DIY form you used.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
For additional information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your Will, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.