Preparing a thorough will takes a bit of planning, but helps to ensure that your wishes are carried out successfully. When you meet with an estate planning attorney, they will likely ask about your family and financial circumstances. The information you provide will help your attorney create a specific estate plan tailored to your needs and wants. In preparation for creating a will, consider gather the following documents:
Personal and Familial Documents
- Birth and Adoption Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Divorce Decrees
Also, consider creating documents that list the following:
- Beneficiary Contact Information: list the name, birthdate, phone number, mailing address, and e-mail address for each beneficiary of your will.
- Executor & Guardian Contact Information: list the name, phone number, mailing address, and e-mail address for each executor and guardian nominated in your will.
- Electronic Information: in the digital age, many executors are left managing a decedent’s online accounts. This can be quite difficult if they do not have access to login information. Create a list of your digital account usernames and passwords, then be sure to keep it up to date.
- Real Estate: gather the deeds of any real property you own, as well as any appraisals and tax bills for those properties.
- Financial Accounts: bank, retirement, and investment account statements.
- Business: if you own a business, compile any identifying documents such as Articles of Incorporation, or stock certificates.
- Life Insurance: gather the life insurance policy documents and beneficiary designations.
- Mortgage Statements
- Credit Cards
- Student Loans
- Car Loans
Be sure to include contact and/or login information for each of the institutions that hold these debts.
- Letter of Intent: many people like to include a letter of intent with their will. This document will not carry any legal weight, but it is a way to speak informally to your executor and beneficiaries. In this letter, you can make specific requests for how your tangible property might be handled, your electronic property (social media accounts, hard drives, cloud storage, etc.), provide detailed instructions for your funeral services, as well as any other information you’d like to include.
Hire an Attorney
Cheaper online methods of creating a will do exist, but hiring a professional is the best way to ensure that:
- Your assets are truly protected.
- Your will follows current law.
- That your wishes are carried out legally and correctly.
The creation of a thorough and effective will can be a time-consuming process, but it is one that can make the lives of your loved ones much easier when you pass on. An estate planning attorney has the education and experience to advise clients on preparing their affairs for incapacity and death.