Creating a will is the cornerstone to creating a comprehensive estate plan. Before you have a will drafted, there are three steps you should take to make the process much smoother.
1. Determine your Net Worth
You’re probably worth more than you realize, with retirement accounts, life insurance and home ownership, your net worth may be higher than you thought it would be. Make an inventory of all of your assets, which are anything of value that you own. Include real estate, vehicles, personal property, jewelry, stocks, retirement accounts, life insurance death benefits and anything else with a value.
Now make a list of your liabilities, which are anything that you may owe. This should include your mortgage, credit card debt, home equity loans, personal loans or any other type of debt. To determine your net worth, simply subtract your total liability from your total assets.
Use this inventory and valuation to help create your will.
2. Choose an Executor
An Executor is responsible for many tasks in administering the estate of a deceased. Many choose a spouse to act as an Executor, but remember, many of their Executor duties will occur during a time of grief, so the obvious choice is not always the optimum choice.
3. Choose a Guardian
If you have children who have not attained the age of majority, this may be the hardest step to take to prepare to draft a will. In fact, it stops many parents in their tracks, for they cannot imagine their children being raised by another person. But consider the more daunting prospect, should anything happen, the Guardian of the children would be chosen by the Court should you not have a will. While a Court would certainly act within the best interests of the children, wouldn’t you rather have the say in choosing their Guardian?
With these steps taken, work with a estate planning attorney to create a will that will complement a comprehensive estate plan to not only handle your assets upon your death, but manage them for you later in life.