4 Important Decisions to Make About Your Estate (Before Writing Your Will)

Photo: August de Richelieu

Have you prepared your will? Well, you might argue that people are now living a little bit longer compared to a few years ago and therefore do not need to prepare it now. The truth is that no matter how long you live, it is important to prepare a will.

Having a plan for your estate is crucial, no matter how old you are. This starts by preparing a will. It comes with things like trust, medical power of attorney, and financial power of attorney.

When writing a will, you will be required to identify a personal representative or an executor of your estate. This person will be tasked with estate management and completing your affairs. However, do you know some of the most important decisions to make before writing your will? 

Here they are;

Decide on Joint Property

There are different types of property ownership, but one that affects your will is the one owned jointly with your spouse. This might be bank accounts and real estate, among others. When writing your will, you need to understand that these things cannot be distributed through your will.

Instead, they are given to the surviving partner. However, if the bank accounts are registered under your name, you can include them in your will. You, therefore, need to talk to your spouse when preparing your will and decide on what to do.

If you have a property under a tenancy in common, you can also include it in your will. This is when you own a certain percentage of a property. For example, if you own a commercial property with your spouse or siblings, you can pass your percentage through your will.

How Many Assets Do You Have?

This might sound like one of the simplest things you have to deal with when writing a will. However, you might be surprised that it gives many people a lot of problems. Before writing your will, you need to identify the assets you have and decide on what to pass to who.

This might include things like retirement funds, investments, credit cards, and bank accounts, among others. If you cannot identify your assets, then distributing them will be a huge challenge.

When deciding on which assets to pass to your beneficiaries, you should also consider non-traditional assets. This includes things such as biological and digital assets. Digital assets are social media accounts, cryptocurrency, domain names, and digital bank accounts. Biological assets might include things such as frozen embryos.

Do You Want to Put Your Money Into a Trust?

One of the most important decisions to make before and when writing your will for those who have underage children is naming a trustee or a legal guardian. Policy Scout defines a trust as a legal document whereby a party, the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold property and other assets for a different party, the beneficiary. 

So, are you going for a legal guardian or will you put your money into a trust? Well, when you make this decision, make sure that the trustee and the legal guardian are different – do not choose the same person to act as both.

If you have older children, you might not need to worry about this. You can ask them to look for a financial planner to help them with asset management. This is important because people tend to misuse money that they are not used to having.

Who Should Prepare Your Will?

With technological advancement, you can find online applications that allow you to prepare your will. You need to avoid these DIY tools. There are many reasons for this, with one of them being that these tools are not specific to any state.

Different states have different requirements when it comes to the preparation and execution of a will. In addition, preparing your own will leaves a few gaps. Often, these wills lack the required signatures. Those that have signatures are often signed by a beneficiary.

With such a mistake, you might invalidate the will or that particular beneficiary who you have signed as a witness. That witness might not even be able to get anything after the execution of the will. You, therefore, need to consult a professional before you prepare your will.

Your will is one of the most important things especially when it comes to your legacy and the financial freedom of your beneficiaries. Before writing your will, you need to think about the things discussed above.