To ensure that your final wishes are carried out when you are gone, it is important to write a Last Will and Testament. However, before you can do that, you need to know what to include in your will.
Which Items Should You Address in Your Will?
Whether you create your will on your own or enlist the help of a lawyer, make sure you include the following 5 things in your Last Will and Testament.
1. Guardianship Over Children
If you have children who are still minors, it is extremely important that you settle the matter of their guardianship. Even if you are still married, you must act as though both you and your spouse might be removed from the picture. Choosing a good guardian for your children will set your mind at ease and prevent the court from having to make a tough decision in your absence.
When most people think about their will, they immediately think about money. Your Last Will and Testament gives you the opportunity to name beneficiaries (recipients) of your cash balance.
3. Non-Financial Assets
Money probably isn’t your only asset. In addition to your immediate finances, you should also use your will to name beneficiaries of belongings, such as vehicles, jewelry, family heirlooms, furniture, etc.
4. Real Estate
If you own a home or other property, you also need to name a recipient of that. If you fail to name a beneficiary for your assets, then they may be liquidated and distributed as the court sees fit.
Again, the whole point of addressing the above topics in your will is to name beneficiaries. If you don’t have children or family you wish to list as heirs, then you may choose a charity or organization to inherit your money.
What Cannot Be Included in Your Last Will and Testament?
While a will covers most of the major areas, it does not cover everything. Keep in mind that, depending on the circumstances, you may not be able to address the following items in your Last Will and Testament.
1. Joint Property or Assets
If you are married and co-own bank accounts and property with your spouse, you don’t have the power to give it all away upon your death. If you wish to do so, you will need to keep a separate account.
2. Life Insurance Beneficiary
Your life insurance beneficiary is kept separate from your will, as you don’t technically own the payout until you pass. The insurance company is responsible for paying the beneficiary.
3. “Payable-On-Death” Accounts
Likewise, all “payable-on-death” accounts or agreements can’t actually be listed in a will since you aren’t in possession of the money. These agreements must be worked out separately.
4. Investment Beneficiaries
Although not exactly “payable-on-death” deals, certain investments, such as retirement plans, also require a bit of adjusting. Working these details out separately from your will ensures that your loved one receives the benefits of your investment.
Other End-of-Life Documents to Keep in Mind
Remember, your Last Will and Testament is not the only end-of-life document you need to keep track of. To make things easier on your loved ones when you pass, make sure you gather and store all the necessary information sooner rather than later. Don’t let the following documents escape your notice:
- Property Titles
- Insurance Information
- Tax History
- Social Security Information
- Major Legal Documents (such as divorce papers)
Once you have finished getting your affairs in order, make sure you find a safe location to store everything and communicate that location with the necessary people. Otherwise, your final wishes may be lost.
How Can the U.S. Will Registry Help?
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. Too often people think loved ones will remember who you told them your attorney is, or where you stored your will in your home. Unfortunately that is not the case. Studies show that 67% of wills are never found when needed. Seniors often move to new facilities, re-write their will (With a new attorney) and move their paperwork. That is why it is essential to register the location of your will in an online registry. The location of your registered will or other end-of-life documents is stored in a database for later access. The U.S. Will Registry provides families and beneficiaries with a means to find lost wills and estate planning documents of those who have passed away. You can register the location of your Will or other documents for a nominal lifetime fee, making it easier for family members to handle your affairs.