A last will and testament helps your family members execute your last wishes on your behalf after you die. Wills are important because they help your family and friends understand how you would like your personal belongings and assets handled once you pass away. Having a will ensures your estate is managed the way you desire. However, many underestimate the importance of creating a will, leaving family members to deal with complex legal situations when settling your estate. Here are some topics you should cover when drafting your will.
A Letter of Instruction
This informal letter is included before your will and provides valuable information about how to carry out what you state in the document. You can share details your family will need to handle your estate, like the contact information of tax professionals, bankers, and attorneys. This is also the place to include information about accessing certain accounts, like online account login information. If you have specific desires for your funeral and burial arrangements, you can state them here.
Name a Personal Representative
A personal representative plays a vital role during the probate process. They are the primary contact person and mediator between your lawyer, the probate court, and family members. From managing the estate bank account, valuing the estate, notifying creditors and beneficiaries about probate proceedings, and distributing assets to beneficiaries at the conclusion of probate, the personal representative is in charge of many aspects of handling your estate. Choosing someone to fulfill this role that you trust and who gets along with most of your family members is vital.
Select a Guardian for Minor Children
Parents with children under 18 should designate a legal guardian in their will. Guardianship often goes to a surviving biological parent if you don’t include this in your will. Otherwise, a family member would need to petition the court to gain custody of your children.
Personal Possession Division
Dividing your possessions and assets can be a stressful task for family members. To make things easier, it’s essential to be clear about who should receive which items. You don’t have to designate all of your belongings to specific people. Instead, focus on sentimental items like family heirlooms, furniture, jewelry, and photographs. You’ll also want to name beneficiaries for real property (such as houses, cars, or boats) and financial assets (like savings accounts). If you own intellectual property like copyrights or patents, you’ll also want to select beneficiaries for these in your will.
You can designate money from available banking accounts for specific purposes in your will. You can also set aside funds for funeral and burial expenses. Ways to allocate funds for specific purposes include:
- Setting aside money for your grandchildren’s college fund.
- Giving your children an inheritance.
- Donating money to a particular charity.
Wills and Estate Planning in Osceola County
Kathy D. Sheive is an Osceola County estate planning attorney that can help you craft the necessary documents to complete your estate plan, including a will. Contact our office at 407-315-2268 or contact us online for a consultation to get started preparing your estate plan today.