I spend a lot of time walking clients through the creation of their first will. It is a customized process that I tailor to the needs and family structure of each of my clients, but there are some standard provisions that everyone should consider. When you hire an attorney to create a will for you, it is worth it to have already considered the following provisions. It will streamline the process if you already have this information with you when it comes time to meet with your attorney.
As an estate planning professional, I have helped countless people create comprehensive estate plans that help them provide for themselves in old age and protect their assets for their loved ones. If you have questions about how recent changes to the law may affect your estate plan, call experienced Bay Area attorney Linda J. MacKay today at 408-379-9600.
Considerations for Every Will
Personal Representative or Executor—the personal representative or executor is the person who will assume the legal obligation to distribute your assets according to your will’s terms, pay your debts, and make sure that your estate pays any outstanding taxes. I always advise clients to also name an alternate in the unfortunate event that your named representative or executor predeceases you.
Specific Bequests—specific bequests are often what we think of when we imagine a will. These are gifts of individual objects and property such as art, real estate, cash, or other possessions. Anyone can receive a specific bequest, it is not limited to family, and you can also give gifts to organizations or charities that you want to support.
Alternate Beneficiaries—while we can all hope that the people we choose to make specific gifts to will all survive us, some will not. Accordingly, your will should make it clear who will receive the art, real estate, cash, or other possessions you wish to pass on if the chosen beneficiary is no longer alive.
Designate a Recipient of Your Residuary Estate—Your residuary estate is everything left over that is not designated for a beneficiary. Imagine your garden tools, that television, that old canoe behind the garage. This property all has value, but you may not provide it as a specific bequest. The person you name to receive your residuary estate will take possession of all of your non-designated property.
Debts—Your will should designate how your remaining debts, funeral bills, taxes, and other liabilities should be paid. You should specify the bank account to be used.
Cancel Debts—If you are owed money, you can use your will to cancel any payment due to you or your estate. This is not required, and you can pass on the indebtedness to a beneficiary, but many people like to use their will to forgive others’ indebtedness.
Business Assets—If you own a business, your business assets are probably kept financially separate from your personal assets. Your will should make it clear who will receive any business assets or whether your share in any business should be liquidated and distributed to beneficiaries.
Pets—Those of us who own pets love them dearly. Your will should specify who should become the pet’s caretaker and set aside money to assist in the pet’s care and feeding.
If You Need Estate Planning Help, Call Linda J. MacKay Today
Creating a comprehensive estate plan can help you protect your assets for the future.
If you have questions about the estate planning process, call an experienced estate planning attorney today.