The first estate planning document you create will likely be a Last Will and Testament. If you are planning to execute a Will for the first time, you need to spend some time thinking about what terms you want to include in your Will ahead of time. To help you, the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law help you prepare for creating your Will by discussing some questions to think about ahead of time.
Last Will and Testament Basics
At its most basic, a Last Will and Testament is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to possessions and dependents. Your Will allows you to make both specific and general gifts. For example, you might make specific gifts of your home and $100,000 to an adult child. You could also gift a percentage of your estate to a beneficiary. For example, you could gift 50 percent of your entire estate to each of your two adult children. In addition, when you create your Will, you appoint someone as your Executor to oversee the administration of your estate. A Will also offers you the only official opportunity you will have to nominate a Guardian for your minor children in the event one is ever needed.
Things to Consider
- What type of Will do you need? Not all Wills are the same. Depending on your circumstances, you may need a specialized Will instead of a simple Will. For example, if you own assets in another country, you may need to execute an International Will or a second Will in the country where your assets are located. Likewise, if you plan to use a trust as your primary distribution vehicle for your assets, you may need to create a Pour-Over Will to catch any assets inadvertently left out of the trust.
- What assets do you own? You probably have a good idea what you own and what your net worth is; however, when it comes time to create your Will, you should have a detailed list of your assets and what the current value of each is.
- Are all your assets probate assets? Only assets that are considered probate assets need to be distributed using your Will. Non-probate assets bypass the probate process, meaning they can typically be transferred or distributed to the beneficiary shortly after your death. Common examples of non-probate assets include trust assets, proceeds of a life insurance policy, and certain types of jointly held property.
- Who do you want to provide for in your absence? Most of your beneficiaries are probably obvious choices; however, take some time to make a list to be sure you haven’t forgotten anyone. Do not overlook charities, religious organizations, or other less obvious beneficiaries.
- Are any of your beneficiaries minors? If you plan to leave any of your assets to minor children, you should consider using a trust to do so. A minor cannot inherit directly from your estate. As such, assets left to a minor using your Will must be managed by an adult. Using a trust allows you to decide who that adult will be.
- Who do you want to administer your estate? One of the decisions you will make when you create your Will is who to appoint as the Executor of your estate. Given the importance of the position, care should be taken when deciding who to appoint. Not only will your Executor be responsible for probating your estate, but if you appoint someone close to you, he/she may also be grieving your loss.
Contact Grand Forks Estate Planning Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your Last Will and Testament, contact a Grand Forks estate planning attorney at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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