As you get older, something that you should do is create an estate plan. Your estate plan should be customized to your situation, helping you take care of yourself and your loved ones at the end of your life and after death.
There are many things that you will need to address in your estate plan. Some issues to address may include:
- Real estate issues
- Deciding on who is going to be the guardian for your children if you pass away
- Determining inheritances
- Setting up trusts
- Deciding on charitable contributions
- Naming a health care agent
- Establishing your Power of Attorney
Creating a will is among the first steps that you’ll take during the estate planning process. A will can be made at any time in your life and be adapted if and when necessary. As long as you have a will, your estate can usually avoid intestate probate, which is a tedious process. With intestate probate, the court makes decisions about your estate and how to distribute it. Those decisions may not be what you would have wanted.
Setting up your will: What to include
In a basic will, you will need to include some simple information. You should add:
- Your name and identifying information
- The names of your beneficiaries
- The name of the person you’d like to establish as your executor
- The name of a backup executor
- Guardianship appointments
- Health care proxy information
- Details on how you’d like to have your assets distributed once you’ve passed away
Do you need to have your will on paper?
Though there are exceptions, the general rule is that it’s best to have your will written down and typed out. It should be on paper, not just in digital form, and will need to be signed with witnesses. Avoid having spoken or handwritten wills if possible, since they may be more likely to be thrown out by the court or contested by your beneficiaries.
Draw up the will on paper and have your attorney review it. Your attorney will help you get the witnesses that you need for the will to make it legally binding.