Drafting a thoughtful, comprehensive and legal will takes time and effort even when using an estate planning attorney. While a legal professional can help ensure that the document or a broader estate plan is valid, there are still many important decisions that those creating a will should consider.
Ostensibly it may be as simple as detailing where personal belongings go, but that might not be the smartest, most thoughtful or effective way to do it.
Assessing a family’s needs
The needs of each individual and family are different, but consider these tips while working with a knowledgeable estate law attorney:
- Consider the beneficiaries: Different ones will likely receive different assets, so picking appropriate assets for the beneficiaries can reflect thoughtfulness. Specifically indicating who gets what also lessens the chance of a dispute among loved ones.
- Choose the right executor: A spouse or child may not have the interest, time or skillset to handle the details, paperwork and decision-making that is part of the executor’s job. Depending on the time it takes them to do the work, the executor should be compensated for their work in closing the estate.
- Pick a guardian: Do this if there are young children who are unable to take care of themselves, but it also may be necessary for older children or a spouse who cannot look after themselves. It is not required, but it does not hurt to ask a potential guardian if they are willing to assume the responsibility.
- Be realistic: It is good to be fair, but it is wise to be realistic about gifting – perhaps only one of the three children is interested in a valuable stamp collection. At the same time, another always enjoyed a vacation property. The decedent may also ask potential beneficiaries to state their interests before final decisions are made.
- Add a personal letter: Actual wills are not letters to loved ones, so many will add a personal note to explain the choices and other final messages that the decedent wishes to leave.
- Pick the right spot: Leave these documents someplace safe and make sure that folks know where to look when the time comes. This avoids unnecessary delays or even a loss of the will.
- Update it: There are many reasons to do this, including children growing up, change in financial circumstances, or the decedent divorces or remarries.
Each family’s needs are different
A knowledgeable estate law attorney can not only help the client draft a will, but they can also provide invaluable assistance with paperwork before or during probate and even help resolve any disputes that arise.