While you may not have a family lawyer readily available for a consult, there are always a few standard practices you can keep in mind to act as your guide.
Here are some tips you can use when writing your will:
1. Pick the Right Executor
An executor, or estate executor, is the person responsible for making sure everything written in your will is enacted accordingly. It can be a tiring job, which is why you want to make sure the executor you choose agrees to the job. If they’re unaware that you’ve officially named them for the task, they can deny their role.
This is another reason why it’s integral to get their approval first before moving forward. You can stay on the safe side if you name an alternate executor when the primary person you prefer cannot do their duty or denies it.
2. Analyze Your Assets
Reviewing your assets is extremely important because people often overestimate or underestimate their possessions or even forget about parts of them entirely. Assets include physical and digital ones, like photo collections and social media accounts.
Going over what you own also ensures correct property division to avoid miscalculating what you can leave behind after applying taxes and fees. It also keeps you from mismanaging the ones that may have multiple jurisdictions. Overall, it’s a good practice that allows you to double-check everything you’re writing into your will.
3. Update Your Will Regularly
Speaking of writing your will, it’s also a good practice to update it regularly. Often, when making it, you may not anticipate the significant life changes that’ll happen in the future.
Whenever significant changes occur in your life, it’s best to either rewrite your will entirely or prepare a codicil. Codicils are more recommended for simple changes.
4. Select a Legal Guardian for Your Children
If you have children, it can be painful to think of leaving them alone without parents. You need to consider naming a legal guardian for them in preparation for the off-chance that you and your spouse pass away before they reach legal age.
Naming a legal guardian will ensure you can leave your children under the care of someone you trust, instead of the state appointing one based on their outside opinion.
5. Write Down a Residuary Clause
Should there be any residual assets after the fees of administering your estate and the taxes after your death, a residual clause ensures that they fall on your chosen beneficiary. Without it, your remaining assets are distributed according to intestacy laws.
6. Remember Your Pets
If you pass away before your pet, it would be a good idea to name a caretaker for them in your will. Besides that, you can also dictate a trust account for them, which will let you leave funds specifically for the care of your pet.
7. Specify a Survivorship Period
Lastly, you must name a survivorship period should any of your beneficiaries die before your will is executed. Without a declared survivorship period, the default period in your location becomes applicable.
Alternatively, you can also specify what you want to do with the assets that would’ve gone to the deceased beneficiary in the event of their death.
There are many things will-writers need to keep in mind when creating their estate plan. It can be a daunting process, which is why it’s advisable to consult with a wills and estates lawyer. It can ensure that the right people receive the things you want them to get when you pass away.
At Dreyer Divison Family Lawyers, our family lawyers dedicate themselves to working in the best interests of our clients. While we also work with wills and estates and residential conveyancing, our main focus is family law. Get in touch with us today to book a consultation!