Legal Guide

What Should I Include in My Will?

Have you ever thought about what you want to put in your will? Have you taken the time to get your estate ready in case of your passing? While most of us don't want to think about our own deaths, preparing ahead of time will make things easier on your loved ones. And, without a will, you can't ensure that the people you love will receive what you've set aside for them. 

So, while spending time and energy preparing a will might not sound enjoyable, it's worth it. And, even if you are a young, healthy adult, life is unpredictable. It's better to be as prepared as possible when it comes to setting up your will and estate.

If you don't have any experience with wills, you may wonder what you should include. Luckily, this guide is here to help. If you're trying to put together a will for the first time, here are some things you need to include.

General Tip: Work With A Lawyer

When setting up a will, one of the easiest things to do is work with an experienced attorney. Many lawyers specialize in estate planning, and they can assist you with putting together your own will or questions regarding a loved one’s will and estate. 

What To Include In Your Will

To some degree, what's included in your will depends on your assets and what's important to you. For example, if you have investments, you'll want to detail who will receive those. Or, if you have multiple vehicles, you'll want to divvy out what happens to them. Perhaps you want them to be sold and the money to be divided between your children. 

Beyond significant assets, you can also put together a list of more sentimental items. While these might not have high financial value, they will likely mean a lot to your loved ones, so detailing what should happen to them also matters. 

However, generally, here are some things you'll want to include in your will:

  1. Choose an executor: The executor of the will is legally in charge of carrying out the contents of the will. They may or may not also be a beneficiary.
  2. Outline your beneficiaries: These are the individuals who will receive your assets. You'll need to include their names as well as the items or money that will go to them.
  3. Set up a guardian for any children who are still minors: If you have any children who are under the age of 18, you'll need to add who will become their legal guardian. If you have children, this is one primary reason to set up a will. You want to ensure your kids are cared for by someone you trust.
  4. Add any specifics or requests: While not all requests in a will are legally binding, you can still add them. These specifics might convey your desires for your funeral or where you'll be laid to rest. In most cases, the executor will try to ensure these wishes are carried out.
  5. Sign the will correctly: Depending on your state, you'll want to look up the exact rules for how to sign the will correctly. You will most likely need witnesses.

While these aren't the only things you can include in your will, they are some of the most important. It's best to look up the laws in your state for more specific questions related to the legalities. Finally, you can reach out to an attorney with experience in wills and estate planning. They are likely your best resource.

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