A Will is formally known as a Last Will and
Testament. In order to make a Will you
will need to address the following basic issues:
property do you wish to include in your will? Preparing a list of your property
that you are considering in your Will would seem pretty easy. However, certain property will not pass
through your Will at all. If title to your home is held in joint tenancy with
your Husband or Wife, they will automatically get the property. It will not
pass through your Will. The same is true of life insurance proceeds, bank
accounts with “payable on death” designations. In addition to a list, attention
needs to be paid to the current title to all property.
2. Which family members or loved ones do you
wish to obtain your property? You should identify in advance the Beneficiaries
of your Will. Also, you will want to identify the property that each
Beneficiary will receive. In lieu of
this, you may simply provide that each Beneficiary take equally or a certain
portion or share such as one-half or one-third.
3. What if your Beneficiaries do not survive
you? Normally, a Will will provide that your Beneficiaries must survive you. If
they do not, there are two options. First, the non-surviving Beneficiary’s
share or property shall be distributed to other beneficiaries you have named. The second alternative is that the surviving
beneficiary’s share shall be given to that beneficiary’s family. Your will
should provide for this contingency.
4. Who will handle your estate? A person who is
in charge of the estate created by your Will is called an executor. This is the
person whom you trust to make decisions, with the court’s permission, regarding
your estate so that the terms of your Will are carried out. An executor need
not have legal training, although he will be called upon by the court to
complete certain tasks, such as submitting the Will to probate court in the
first place, conducting an inventory of your property, selling your property,
and other tasks. The probate court may require that the executor post a bond as
insurance for his or her acts. There are professional executors that you can
choose from. An executor may hire an
attorney of his own, which is common, and makes the probate process easier.
Other considerations that you should consider
are who will be the guardian for your children (if they are under the age of 18
when your Will is probated), and do you wish to have a Living Trust instead.