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What Should I Include in My Will?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Milwaukee, WI estate planning will attorneyMost people understand that it is important to have a will, but many people do not understand that what you include in your will is what makes it so important.

Your will is a legal document used to express your final wishes with regards to the handling of your personal property and other assets. It is a final way, upon your passing, to show your loved ones that you care.

Knowing what you can and should include in your will can help you feel more confident and secure. Your will should address the following issues:

Executor

Your executor, or personal representative, is the person or entity who is responsible for executing/carrying out your final wishes listed in your will. They are the “manager” of your will, so it is important to choose someone trustworthy that you feel will carry out your wishes as intended.

Beneficiaries

The person/entity you leave your property to is referred to as a “beneficiary.” You can list one or more specific beneficiaries for each piece of property you leave behind. For example, you can leave a dining set to one single beneficiary, or you can leave it to two beneficiaries with instructions to sell it and divide the profits.

Alternate Beneficiaries

Because beneficiaries are specific people who may or may not be available to accept the property you bestow upon them at the time of your passing, you may wish to choose alternate beneficiaries. These are essentially “back-up” beneficiaries who will replace the specified primary beneficiaries in the event they have already passed or are not capable of taking ownership of the listed property.

Recipients of Remaining Property

Even after you have listed the beneficiaries of your specified property, you will likely have a vast amount of other property that is not specified. Anything from bedding and toiletries to appliances and lawn equipment can make up your remaining property. While these items may not be things you wish to specifically leave to someone, they can add up to a substantial value. 

To ensure that the value of your estate is distributed to your heirs correctly, you should always list at least one beneficiary for your remaining property. You can list one person, or you can list multiple people to divide up the proceeds from the auction or sale of the remaining property in even amounts or specified percentages.

How to Cover Costs

Upon your passing, there will be a few last expenses to take care of. Your funeral costs and any outstanding bills, debts, or taxes will need to be paid. You do not want your loved ones to be financially responsible for your expenses, and you do not want any confusion over where the funds will come from, so it is important to provide those details in your will. 

Cancel Debts

As a final act of goodwill, you can forgive debts others owe you. Assuming there are people or entities who are in debt to you at the time of your passing, you can include in your will that those debts are canceled (or forgiven), easing them of the financial burden.

Guardianships or Caretakers

Should you have children or pets at the time of your passing, your will is also a great way to detail how you would like them to be cared for. You can specify who you would like to be the guardian(s) of your children, taking them into their home and providing care and guidance through to adulthood.

You can also list who you would like to care for your pet(s). Pets are like family to a lot of people; so while they are considered property in the eyes of the law, choosing a desired caretaker may be very important for you to consider.

Speak With a Milwaukee Estate Planning Attorney

As you now know, a will involves many complex details. Your will should be created to fit your personal needs, and the Milwaukee, WI estate planning lawyers at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you do so. Contact us today at 414-271-1440 to schedule a consultation. 

Sources:

https://www.yoursmartmoneymoves.com/2010/02/09/ten-things-to-include-in-your-will/

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