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 April 03, 2020

Top 5 Things to Consider in a Will

Woman working on her Last Will & Testament at her home kitchen table

Ensuring your protection

Creating a Will is something that most of us don’t consider until the world forces us to. Times of crisis tend to remind us that death is never as far away as it may seem, particularly when we’re relatively young and healthy. We need to have our affairs sorted in case the worst happens so that our family isn’t left to sort out a mess. The coronavirus outbreak has forced us all to consider how prepared we are for the unexpected.

Estate planning, Wills, and Trusts can be complicated for the non-lawyer, and with so much else going on in the world, it’s easy to focus on the immediate, less complicated concerns. And that’s okay; understanding the different types of Wills and walking through the process is the job of lawyers. Working with an estate planning lawyer to draft a Trust or Will gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve left nothing to chance and no greater burden upon your family than grieving your loss.

You have a lot to protect

Your life is a collection of the things you’ve been given, and the things you’ve accumulated. Not just the items we’ve bought throughout the years, either; we’re born into a family, and create our own over the course of our life. You have things of great sentimental or financial value that you want to see preserved, and people that you want to see taken care of after you’re gone.

Your estate is composed of the things you own, and you need to determine what to do with your estate before the time of your death lest it is left up to the laws of the state to determine how it will be distributed. You also have to think about the care of any young children you might have should you pass away suddenly; that, even more than your property, is not something you want the courts to decide.

Creating your Will

Your Will lays out the wishes for the distribution of your estate and provides for the care of any people under your care, be they, children or adults. There is a lot that goes into it, but there are a few basic elements that you should consider:

  • Your assets
    Your Will should provide for how you want your estate assets to pass, which can range from bank accounts, stocks, houses and cars to personal items like jewelry and furniture. Certain assets may not be passed on through a Will. Some have a beneficiary already named, like your life insurance or you may hold certain property jointly with someone.
  • Your debts
    Some debts may become the responsibility of the estate and creditors may have an opportunity to make claims against the estate before the rest of your assets can be divided up. These may include mortgages, loans, student loans, credit cards, and any other money owed.
  • Your beneficiaries
    Naming your beneficiaries determines who receives certain assets that pass outside your estate like life insurance and a 401K. It is important to make sure all your beneficiary designations are up to date.
  • A guardian and trustee.
    Regardless of your assets, choosing a guardian for your minor children can be the most important thing you can do with your Will. Your choice of guardian should be someone who you can trust with their physical care. A trustee is normally the term for the person(s) you choose to take care of the financial matters for children until they reach a certain age. The same person(s) can be named as the guardian and trustee but you can decide if you want a different person(s) in those roles.
  • An executor
    Finding an executor or personal representative for your Will can be a tall task. That person is responsible for your final wishes, including managing your assets and figuring out inheritance, debts, and expenses and all the other things required to wrap up your remaining affairs. To that end, your executor or personal representative should be someone you trust and someone capable of handling the responsibility, as well as your family, during an emotional time.

Once you’ve established what you own (and owe) and who you want to have your things (and manage them for a time), you want to make sure you get all of that in writing. A lawyer will help you craft a Will and provide the necessary steps to properly execute the documents.  From there, you simply have to make sure your Will is safe and secure (while also being easy for your executor or personal representative to find) and hopefully not needed for a long time.

Your provider lawyer can also assist with a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Financial Matters, along with a Living Will as part of the Will benefit under your membership. Keep in mind that a Will itself does not avoid probate. You can discuss additional estate planning options under your consultation benefit with a provider lawyer.

A Will is like insurance: you dread the day it will be needed, but when it comes your family will be glad you had it. Talk with a LegalShield provider attorney today to get started on your Will as part of your personal plan. The LegalShield app makes it easy to start the process. Learn more about LegalShield plans starting at $24.95 a month.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at legalshield.com for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.


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