Five Things You May Want In Your Will
When it comes to preparing for the future, nothing is more important than creating tailored comprehensive estate plan. But, unless you’re a lawyer who is thoroughly versed in estate planning laws, creating an estate plan can be a daunting task—and for good reason. Knowing what to include in your plan and how to create one is not easy, which may explain why many people avoid it altogether.
In fact, according to a 2017 survey conducted by Caring.com, over half of Americans don’t have a will – a necessary component of your comprehensive plan. But, as any good estate planning lawyer will tell you, having a will in place can save your loved ones time and money, and most importantly, will help ensure your wishes are met after you’re gone. 
If you are one of the many individuals without a will, now is the time to take control of your legacy! To help simplify the process, we have provided five of the most important factors to consider when creating a will. While the specifics of wills will vary from person to person, these five things are a good place to start to guarantee you and your loved ones are protected in the future.
What is a Will?
Before we dive into what to include in a will, let’s go over what a will is. Generally speaking, a will (also referred to as a last will and testament) is a legal document that dictates how your assets will be divided and who will gain ownership of them after you pass away.
Things to Include in a Will
- Executor/Personal Representative
A critical component of estate planning is naming an executor also sometimes called a personal representative, the person who will be in charge of managing your estate and overseeing the division of your possessions. Needless to say, this is a very important role and should be given to someone you trust wholeheartedly. Furthermore, it is best to pick someone who is responsible and organized as their duties will be many.
Once you settle on an executor, it’s a good idea to notify that person so they can be prepared to uphold your wishes should anything happen in the future.
Next up on the list is beneficiaries. These are people you would like to inherit your property, possessions or cherished items. You can name as many or as few beneficiaries as you like, but no matter the number, be sure to include identifying information, such as each individual’s legal name, address, contact info, and date of birth. This will help to avoid any ambiguity over who the intended beneficiary is. It’s also wise to include alternate beneficiaries in case your first choices are no longer living at the time the will goes into effect.
If you’re a parent, one of the many benefits of setting up a will is the assurance that your child or children will be taken care of according to your wishes should anything happen to you. To achieve this, your will should name a legal guardian for any children who are minors. Without specifically designating a guardian, the minor may be placed with someone objectionable to you or worse, Child Services. If that is not what you prefer, you can use your will to specify who you prefer to legally raise your child in your absence.
Investment accounts, property, jewelry, heirlooms, cash, and personal possessions are all significant assets you may want to list in your will, and then assign to a specific beneficiary. To do this, take inventory of all of your valued and cherished items now, and think about who you want to bequeath them to. Remember to be as thorough and specific as possible to avoid confusion.
- Special Circumstances
While the four items listed above are standard components of a will, it is not uncommon to include other instructions for more complex situations. Special circumstances like the care of pets, the transfer of digital assets (personal websites, social media accounts, and cryptocurrencies), and provisions for a child with special needs are all unique cases that may be addressed in a will. Additionally, some people like to include a letter to loved ones. Although this should not be included in the actual text of the legal document, it can be attached to the will to help your beneficiaries better understand your wishes and the reasons behind them.
The Final Step
After you’ve done your homework and carefully thought about how to want your assets to be allocated, the next step is to call in an expert to help you finalize your planning and make sure it meets your state’s legal requirements. In Arizona, for example, there are six different requirements a will must meet in order to be valid. Fortunately, an estate planning lawyer can help with that and make the entire process as simple and hassle free as can be.
For help with your will or other estate planning needs, contact Donna Farar Jewett, PLLC, an experienced and compassionate attorney serving Scottsdale, Phoenix, and the surrounding areas of Arizona.
 A will is not a substitute for a comprehensive plan but is necessary in all cases to avoid the court or the state making decisions for you.
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