Our inevitable mortality is often the last thing on each of our minds, and as a result, the preparation for that event is often lacking. Too many people fail to create a will usually because they are afraid to face their own death or are too busy to sit down and draft one. Planning for the distribution of your estate after your death is not something that should be put off. Dying without a last will invokes intestacy laws, which means the state determines how a person’s estate is distributed and how their assets are allocated. A will is a crucial part of an estate plan, helping to ensure that things go as planned even after your passing.
The task may seem quite daunting, but the hardest part of writing a will is getting started. There are a number of things to consider when writing your will; here are seven to keep in mind.
The executor, or personal representative, is tasked with making sure the wishes in your will are carried out, so you will want to choose someone responsible and whom you trust. It is important to discuss with this person ahead of time whether he or she is willing to accept this role, since administering an estate can be time-consuming and involves a lot of paperwork. Provide this person with the resources necessary to find your important documents, insurance policies, and online login information for financial accounts.
Take a comprehensive inventory of your property. An estate cannot be administered without knowing the components of that estate. Make sure to include real property, such as houses and land, and personal property, such as bank accounts, stocks, financial assets, jewelry, heirlooms, etc. In our modern technological world, we also have to consider non-traditional properties, like digital assets. The login information for social media accounts that generate revenue, domain names, online bank accounts, and important data are all important in your estate planning. Any joint property will be passed to the surviving owner, but a share of property owned jointly by a tenancy in common can be passed according to a will.
Your beneficiaries are the people who will be inheriting your property as outlined by your will. Unless your family structure or relationships with people are complicated, selecting your beneficiaries is often a quick decision. They are the people you love, your family, and your friends. The whole purpose of writing your will is for the benefit of these people.
Legal Guardian for Minor Children
Usually when a parent passes away, the other parent gets custody of the children. There are situations where this is not the case, for instance if both parents die at the same time. Naming a legal guardian for your children is important so your children can be provided for and properly raised. Also ask the potential legal guardian if they can take up the role ahead of time; raising children is not an easy task.
Although pets are members of the family, under the law, they are considered personal property. Make sure to include in your will a provision detailing who should take responsibility for your pets, as well as instructions for any special needs your pets may have.
Digital assets are not the only digital things that have to be considered after passing. Your online presence in the form of social media and other accounts or websites should be properly attended to or disposed of. Some websites, like Facebook, have built-in provisions for handling your page after you’re deceased, but not every site has this feature. You should make your wishes known in your will, including relevant login information and passwords.
Don’t make a will yourself. There are many online tools for do-it-yourself wills, but few people have a financial situation that is so simple they do not need a lawyer. There are many state-specific laws that such websites do not take into account, and it can be a headache to have to worry about whether you are making any mistakes. Finding the right attorney is imperative not only to ensure that your assets are properly taken care of, but also to give you peace of mind that everything is done correctly. Remember that this is your entire life’s worth, so getting professional help is a smart investment.
Wang IP Law Group, P.C. is a Los Angeles based full service legal firm that specializes in intellectual property law (patent, trademark, copyright, and licensing agreement), business and commercial litigation, and a wide range of other legal matters including immigration, real estate, and landlord/tenant cases. Our multilingual attorneys represent clients from all over California and internationally from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and Israel.
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