What do I need to consider when writing my will?

There are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration when creating a will and it involves some serious decision-making. It’s important to understand all the key factors, as this will save you time and allow you the space to make the right decisions. This video outlines the factors you will need to consider and will give you an understanding of what decisions need to be made prior to completing your will.

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Video transcript

Creating a will is an important part of planning for the future. When you pass, having a will ensures that your final wishes will be carried out clearly, alleviating a lot of stress from your family during this difficult time.

It’s helpful to think about and make s decision on some aspects of your will before speaking to a lawyer. Here are some of the more common things you should consider.

Who will be the executor of your will?

The executor will be the person who carries out your final instructions and manages the affairs of your estate. This is a large responsibility, so you may want to appoint a professional or at least ensure they are part of the process once the estate is being distributed. 

If you have minor children, who will be their legal guardian?

If you are survived by your spouse, custody will go to them. However, in the unfortunate situation that you are not, choosing a legal guardian for your children is important. Discuss your decision with potential guardians before naming them in your will. It is always a good practice to also list an alternate.

What assets do you have?

Make a detailed list of all your assets, including investments, real estate, bank accounts, business ownership and intellectual property. You should include any special items, such as family heirlooms, that you may have specific instructions for. The list should be updated once a year. 

Who are the beneficiaries?

These are the people you will be leaving your assets to. If your beneficiaries are minors, consider whether you will be establishing a trust and who you will designate to control the trust. It is a good idea to think of what-if scenarios. For example, if you’re naming your spouse as a beneficiary, what if you and your spouse died at the same time? What would you want to happen then? Another consideration could be whether you would like to leave anything to charity. 

What would you want to happen to your pets?

Pets are often considered part of the family. Although pets cannot be considered beneficiaries directly, it is not uncommon to designate a caregiver and provide them with funds to take care of the pets. 

What would you like to happen with your digital legacy?

It is becoming increasingly common to leave instructions for the management of your online accounts. Some websites, such as Facebook, have a memorial status option that allows the account to remain and people to leave memorial messages. You may want your executor to post a final status, tweet or update. Or you may want your accounts deleted altogether. 

What would you like to happen at your funeral or memorial service?

Providing guidance to your family about your final wishes for this will ease stress during a difficult time. 

Contemplating these questions will ensure that your final wishes are carried out as you intended. Figuring out what your answers to these questions before seeing a lawyer about your will can save you time and money.