Basic estate planning is a necessary fact of life, but it is still something that many people put off or talk themselves out of keeping up with. There are a variety of reasons why that is, but the fact is that solid estate planning is the only way to be sure that one's wishes will be followed after one passes. That means it is a necessary step if you need to take care of dependents like minor children or if you are trying to minimize the financial impact on your spouse in the event of the unexpected.
There are quite a few ways to do this, and the more valuable and numerous your assets, the more complex the process is likely to be. There are a few core features everyone needs, though, no matter how simple you want the document to be.
Core elements for any will
Here is what you need to do to make sure a basic will is complete:
- Name the executor of your estate
- List your assets and the beneficiaries who will inherit them
- Decide what you wish to have done with your electronic accounts like social media
If you have those three elements and no reason to include anything else, that can be the entirety of your will. For most people, that's not enough, though.
Other common elements to a will
Here are the most common additions. Chances are you will need at least one or two in your will. They include:
- Listing anyone you are disinheriting and explaining why
- Naming a guardian for any minor children
- Composing a letter with a personal statement or explanation of any unexpected changes in circumstances to your heir
How to prepare your will
U.S. News & World Report has written a few substantial articles with advice for those who are putting together a will for the first time. In one piece, they stress the importance of working with a professional who can ensure your will meets all the particular legal standards of your state, to make it more secure. They also stress the importance of being sure that your heirs know where to locate your will if anything should happen. If you're getting ready to put your will together for the first time, investigating those details is important.
Having the right advice and guidance during your estate planning process is the best way to make sure that your wishes will be followed once you are gone. Not only can a good attorney help you shape the document, your lawyer can also advise you as you make choices like the designation of your estate's executor.