I am often asked for advice about how to begin preparing a Last Will and Testament. Since your Will is supposed to be a written statement of how you want your estate divided and who should inherit your assets, even though you might not be 100% certain about making these decisions for the distant future, you should do the best you can to answer these five questions:
Five Questions to Help Draft a Will
- Who is the person that you want to be appointed the personal representative (Executor) of your estate to handle the administration duties? Is there someone else that could also be named in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to be appointed?
- Although just an option, do you want to leave any specific property (like a house, jewelry, cars, etc.) or any cash bequests (gifts) to any person, charity, or cause. If a person happens to be under a certain age (18 or it could be later), would you want to name someone else to control the money or property until your beneficiary reaches a certain age?
- If you have a business, who would you want to take control of that company (and in what percentage, if more than one person)?
- Who would you want to inherit the remainder of your property (like bank accounts, investment accounts, etc., and anything else that is not specifically mentioned above) to be left to, and if more than one person, what percentage to each?
- Are there any other provisions, conditions, or terms that you want to be included in your Will? (a “non-contest” provision, guardian/trustee for minor children, payment of inheritance taxes for beneficiary, etc.)
What if You Still Get Stuck?
If you find that you are still unable to come up with the answers to these questions, you might consider discussing them openly yet confidentially with an attorney. You can be confident that your lawyer will protect your privacy and protect the confidentiality of the information exchanged in the process of solving your estate planning needs.