What are the Top Aspects of a Will

Having a legal will with an independent executor and clearly identified beneficiaries can lessen the stress and emotional upheaval that stem from your death. Problems can occur when property beyond personal belongings is involved.

Troubles abound as well should your will name unlikely beneficiaries or a large number of beneficiaries.

Consider the Following Key Points

  • Drafting your will. Take time to think about the individuals you trust to handle your affairs after you die. Name someone who’s trustworthy and good with their own finances and who you believe will follow your directions and any court directives.
  • Choosing the right fiduciary. The wrong choice might steal from your estate, or simply be incompetent, failing to file necessary paperwork or distribute property to beneficiaries. In fact, the wrong fiduciary might even take advantage of you while you’re alive to influence you to name them as your primary beneficiary and as your executor.
  • You should visit your attorney on your own. Should you need help to travel there, request aid from a disinterested party. If the only person to take you is a beneficiary or executor, make sure he or she is not present in the room during your will execution. You don’t want someone unduly influencing you.
  • Naming a successor executor. Your appointed executor may predecease you or become unable to act. By naming a successor, the process of haggling among any other people who qualify for the job — lengthy, stressful, and costly battles over who should be appointed — is eliminated.
  • Naming contingent beneficiaries so that your property doesn’t go to anyone but your intended beneficiaries. Generally, all property not specifically disposed of in a will gets distributed with the residuary estate — all your property that you didn’t give to someone elsewhere in your will. Your residuary estate can be distributed according to the residuary estate provisions in your will. Here’s where you’d name Cousin Martha to get your gold bracelet should Aunt Lena not want it, predecease you or no longer be capable of appreciating it. (State rules come into play in how this is handled.)
  • Handling nontraditional properties (digital and biological assets, for instance). These include online bank accounts as well as social media accounts that generate money. For parents who conceived children through fertility treatment, leftover frozen embryos may end up in court. (This was covered in a “Law & Order” episode.)
  • Going with the flow. You can make changes as life takes you in different directions, as people come in and out of your life. You can add, modify or remove will provisions. By updating your will, you make sure to provide for your spouse and children.

Your estate planning attorney will be able to customize your will for your situation and make sure there is no ambiguity in your plans.

Reach out to Roz Carothers and her team at Triplett & Carothers to learn more.