5 Things to Consider When Creating a Will

Being a legal declaration, a will is typically made for making dispositions of property to take effect on or after a person’s death. A will is a personalized legal document and can be made for appointing those that one wishes to manage any part of their estate. Specific protocols exist for drafting a will, specific to a country, state, and province and similar areas.

A will must adhere to the rules and regulations of your place of residence. You can write your own will out from scratch (you must be of legal age to write a will). You can also buy a self-help will kit. Furthermore, you can have an entity such as LegalZoom or others draft a will for you to your requirements. Regardless of what route you take, here are 5 things to consider when creating your will:

1. Decide Whether You Need a Basic or More Complex Will

If you require a simple will, you can create your own or use a will kit with organized forms. However, if you have more advanced provisions that need attention then consider reputable estate and probate attorneys. Their experience and knowledge ensures you will have the will that addresses all your estate concerns in all their intricacies.

2. Choose an Executor

This is a crucial decision on your part. Choose someone you trust very much. This person will be responsible for carrying out your wishes. Your executor is responsible for ensuring the commands in your will. He or she is additionally responsible for paying the debts associated with your estate, as well as assembling, and dispensing your assets.

3. Focus on Your Children

Make sure you devote time to ensuring your will takes care of the needs of your children. Consider appointing guardians. Typically, the surviving spouse will assume parental responsibility. Usually, appointed guardians assume responsibility if both parents die.

Concerning unmarried couples, if the one partner dies, the other partner does not automatically get guardianship. Therefore, it’s extremely important each appoint each other to avoid problems.

4. Make a List of Personal Property

Come up with an accurate and detailed property list. You then attach this to your will. What’s great about a property list is that you can modify it at any time. You don’t have to rewrite the entire will; you just make changes to the list as concerns asset dispensing.

If you have international assets (overseas), include them in this list. Do this if you are not creating a separate will for these overseas assets. Seek advice from a lawyer on the best way to handle the disposition of your overseas assets.

5. Be Specific

To avoid misunderstandings, confrontations, confusion, and arguments, be very specific in your will. You may desire to leave certain valuable items to certain immediate family members, or relatives, friends, or other individuals. Be very precise and clear as to what the exact asset is and to whom you want to receive it. Give as much detail as possible. This makes the disposition of your assets an easy and smooth process.

A properly constructed will contributes to peace of mind. The creation of your will is one of the most vital decisions and actions you will make in your life. You’re taking responsibility for your affairs. You guarantee your wishes will be precisely followed to benefit family members and others important to you.

About the Author

By , on Jan 6, 2013
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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  1. I don’t have a will currently, but I’m sure I should. I kept putting it off because I felt like I didn’t have anything to give/worry about if I died. Now that we bought a house and I have a little savings and retirement, I really do need to get a will put together.

  2. A good reminder to do this in 2013. Can Legal Zoom notarize your will? Is that even necessary? Where do you file a will?

  3. Evan says:

    #4 is just wrong in some states. It is called Incorporation by Reference and is not enforceable in New York and a few other Jurisdictions.

  4. Brian says:

    My dad told me they haven’t updated their will since 1977 (3 years before I was born), but since my wife and I had a baby he has decided it is time to update their will. So apparently having a son wasn’t good enough for an update, but a grandson was. It was nice to see where I rank!

    In all seriousness it is important to have a will and also let your heirs know where you keep important financial information (deeds, stock information, etc) so they can find it when you are no longer around.

    • Andy says:

      Since we don’t have children yet, we’ve yet to take the time to create one but I do need to talk to my mom and dad about theirs in the near future. The story about your dad is really funny by the way. lol.

  5. Thad says:

    And make sure you update it from time to time. The circumstances of your estate and your life change. The will you wrote 15 years ago might not meet the need for today.

  6. When my wife and I got married we made wills stating that each of us gets everything, and then decided who gets everything should we die. No children yet, so that made things easy.

  7. Thank you for reminding me that our will probably needs revisiting; all sound suggestions.

  8. One thing I did when my wife and I created our will was we split up the power between others. For example, we designated the financial obligations towards the person who was more money savvy. On the other hand our kids would go to who we thought was the most financially stable and able to raise them. This way no one was burden with all the decisions or power.

  9. All great points, we still need to do this. Unfortunately we keep putting it off.

  10. I’ve yet to do this myself. I know I have to, but feels so morbid. I know, I know…it’s on the to-do list…

  11. A will is something I really should start think about creating. I am not getting any younger and need to make sure everything is properly passed on to my daughter if the worst were to happen.

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