A will is a legally binding document that sets forth your wishes for how your estate will be handled after your death. Although the thought of it may be uncomfortable to think about, creating a will is an important step in ensuring that your loved ones are provided for according to your wishes.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of crucial questions to ask yourself. By answering these questions, you will better understand what to include in your will and how to best protect your interests and those of your loved ones.
47 Questions you should ask when making a will:
- Who will be my executor?
- What assets do I have?
- Who do I want to receive my assets from?
- Who are the beneficiaries of my will?
- Who are the important people in my life?
- Do I live in a community property state?
- Do I need to name an alternate executor?
- Who will be the guardian of my minor children?
- Do I need to set up a trust?
- If so, what type of trust do I want to create?
- Who should serve as trustee of my trust?
- What are the terms of my trust?
- When do I want my trust to terminate?
- How should my property and assets be divided?
- Who should receive my retirement accounts and life insurance policies?
- Do I have debts that need to be paid after my death?
- Do I need to make arrangements for pets?
- Do I have charitable donations I would like to make?
- Do all my beneficiary designations on financial accounts match the wishes outlined in my will?
- Have I recently reviewed my will and amended it if necessary?
- Do I need to name a guardian for my children’s assets?
- What are the estate taxes in my state?
- Have I appointed an executor who lives in the same state as I do?
- Have I consulted with an attorney about my particular situation?
- What are my funeral wishes?
- Have I been married before? If so, are there any outstanding divorce issues that need to be resolved?
- Have I ever been in a common-law relationship? If yes, what arrangements do I need to make for my partner?
- Do I have any dependent adults in my life? If so, what arrangements do I need to make for their care?
- What happens if the person I’ve appointed as executor cannot or won’t take on the task?
- What happens if the person I’ve named as guardian for my children cannot or won’t take on the task?
- What happens if one of the persons I’ve named as a beneficiary dies before me?
- What happens if one of the charities I’ve named as a beneficiary ceases to operate before I die?
- Have I included everything I need in my will?
- Do I want to leave certain personal items to specific individuals?
- What are the tax implications of my estate plan?
- Do I need to update my insurance policies?
- Do I need to update the beneficiary information on my accounts?
- Have I prepared financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney?
- Do I have an up-to-date copy of my will?
- Have I reviewed my will regularly and updated it as needed?
- Is there anything else I need to do to complete my will?
- Who has copies of my will?
- How can I make sure my will is carried out according to my wishes?
- Do I need witnesses?
- What happens if I die without a will?
- Do I need a lawyer to help me make my will?
- Am I satisfied with the way my will is currently drafted or do I need to change it?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the golden rule when making a will?
The golden rule in writing a will is to make sure that the testator is of sound mind and fully understands the implications of the will.
To do this, it’s important to have the will witnessed by a medical professional who can assess the testator’s mental capacity and determine if he or she’s capable of making decisions about his or her assets according to his or her wishes.
This can help minimize the risk of ambiguity or dispute after the decedent’s death by ensuring that the decedent’s intentions are unambiguous. In addition, the presence of a medical professional as a witness to the will can help prevent fraud or other forms of manipulation by potential beneficiaries.
Where is the best place to keep a will?
There’s no definitive answer to this question, as the best place to keep a will depends on several factors, including personal preferences, financial security, and legal requirements. Some people prefer to keep their will in a safe place at home, such as a fireproof box or safe deposit box. Others prefer to store their will with an attorney or other legal professional. It’s best to keep your will in a place where you feel comfortable and confident that it will be protected from damage or loss.
What should I avoid in a will?
Don’t include contradictory or ambiguous provisions in your will. This can lead to confusion and litigation later. Therefore, you must make your will as clear and precise as possible.
Avoid making last-minute changes or additions to your will after it’s already been written. Subsequent changes may not be legally binding, which could jeopardize the effectiveness of your last will and testament.
You shouldn’t attempt to write or revise your will yourself without the help of an attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft and execute your will correctly, minimizing the risk of legal challenges.
Why would a will be rejected?
The most common reason is that the person who wrote the will didn’t fully understand its contents. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as mental illness or impaired judgment, as well as fraud or duress.
Other possible reasons for rejecting a will include an incomplete signature or failure to comply with legal requirements, such as having two witnesses sign off on the document.
In deciding whether or not to accept a will, courts must consider and weigh a variety of factors to determine whether the will meets all legal requirements.
Creating a legally binding document stating your wishes for how your estate will be handled may not be a pleasant thought, but it’s an important step in protecting your interests and the interests of your loved ones.
By answering the questions above, you’ll be well on your way to creating a comprehensive and effective will. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to review and update your will regularly as needed!
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