You’ve probably heard that writing a will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your loved ones after you’re no longer around. However, you might not realize that preparing a will can be challenging. Not only should a will account for all your assets and possessions, but it also needs to consider outstanding debts. Moreover, your will should meet all the necessary requirements to hold up in court. Keep reading to learn how to prepare a will checklist so nothing falls through the cracks.
Identify Assets and Wishes
The first step in preparing your will is identifying the assets you have to pass on to your beneficiaries. Along with actual cash in checking and savings accounts, your will checklist should include real estate, cars, jewelry, valuable artwork, stocks, and any intellectual property you control. After determining what assets you have in your possession, you can make it clear how and when you want property distributed to beneficiaries.
Additionally, your will is a good place to relay final wishes to your loved ones. By spelling out your wants with regard to wakes, funerals, and burial or cremation, you can save your grieving family members from having to make these types of decisions. Moreover, you can ensure that your last wishes are carried out as desired.
Consider Any Debts
Wills allow you to pass on assets to loved ones. However, individuals sometimes forget that they also pass on their debts. When making your will, be sure to consider what debts you have and how they could reduce the value of your loved one’s inheritance. Depending on what you owe, the executor of your estate may have to sell off some of your assets in order to pay down your debt. Assessing assets and debts can also help you determine whether your beneficiaries are likely to be saddled with hefty state or federal estate tax bills down the line.
Collect Important Documents
If you want to ensure your will holds up in court, it’s essential that you collect important documents ahead of time. As a bonus, gathering all these documents in one place will help ensure that your family members have access to them when you’re no longer there. Here are some of the key documents you need to collect when writing a will:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage licenses
- Divorce certificates
- Property deeds
- Mortgage information
- Insurance information
- Bank accounts and investment portfolios (including account numbers)
- Names and phone numbers for lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors
- Funeral or memorial information
- Burial plots or cremation plans
Find an Executor
Preparing a will is only half the battle. If you want to ensure your loved ones are protected, you also have to find someone you can trust to distribute your assets according to your instructions. Known as an executor, this individual has the job of settling your estate and dispensing money and property to your chosen beneficiaries. In some cases, individuals opt to name a co-executor or even select an alternate executor in the event that their first choice doesn’t want to take on the job.
Store Your Will Someplace Safe
Preparing a will checklist can help ensure that your family is taken care of and that nothing slips through the cracks. However, even the most detailed and thoughtful will won’t do much good if your loved ones have a hard time locating it when you’re gone. After finalizing your will, make sure it has the correct number of signatures (usually two witness signatures and one from a notary). Then, select a safe place to store your will and other important documents, so family members can access it. While some people opt to stow their wills in a safety deposit box, others prefer to keep papers in a fireproof safe. Regardless of your choice, make sure someone knows where to find this information so they aren’t left fumbling when you’re no longer around.
Make JacksonWhite Your Estate Planning Partner
It’s natural to want to ensure your family is protected no matter what happens. However, individuals are often at a loss when it comes to preparing their wills. That’s where JacksonWhite comes in. Our team has the knowledge and dedication to support you in all your estate planning needs. Additionally, we have the resources to offer individualized attention and instruction. Contact us today and let attorney Dave Weed and his team starting your estate planning process.
Call Arizona Estate Attorney Dave Weed at (480)467-4325 to discuss your case today.
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