Factors to Consider When Writing Your Will
Writing a will takes time and consideration. It is not a document you should throw together or let your attorney control. Your will should be as simple or as specific as you need to ensure your last wishes are carried out. When you get started on making out your will, call a Leesburg estate planning attorney at our office for help and consider a few factors:
- Property that will need to be distributed. When you pass away, your family or executor will need to take an inventory of all of your probate assets and distribute them based on your will. You should carefully review your assets so that everything is distributed the way you want. Your non-probate assets will transfer to the next owners through another process. For instance, property in a trust may automatically go to the trust’s beneficiaries without waiting on the probate process. By considering what needs to be distributed, you may find you could transfer ownership of some of your assets upon your death in a faster way.
- Who you want to benefit through your will. Under the law, certain relatives are your heirs. However, the beneficiaries you list in your will may or may not include your legal heirs. You can give money, property, or other assets to whomever you like, including family, friends, schools, businesses, and nonprofits.
- How taxes will affect your beneficiaries. When you leave an individual a sum of money, an item of personal property, real estate, or any other asset, the law states that it is subject to inheritance tax based on its appraised value. You should keep this in mind when deciding to leave things to beneficiaries who may be hit hard by this tax. Some items are better gifted during your life or transferred through another estate planning tool.
- Potential financial changes in the coming years. Many individuals make the mistake of gifting sums of money to friends, family members, and charities without considering that their estate may decline in value prior to their death. Your reduced estate may leave your executor to mete out all of your specific bequests, or after fulfilling these specific gifts, not have any residual remaining to benefit others.
- Unborn children. If you believe your family may grow between writing your will and passing away, you may want to draft your will so that these family members can also benefit from your estate. For instance, you may state that all of your grandchildren should benefit a certain amount. However, you may also specifically want to limit benefits to the family members you knew well at the time of making your will. In this case, your will can be more specific.
- Who is capable and willing to distribute your estate? You should give a considerable amount of thought as to who will be both capable and willing to distribute your assets based on your will when you pass. This task can be relatively simple when you and your family are prepared. However, if you have a considerable estate or someone challenges the will, it can be time consuming and stressful. Consider speaking with members of your family to determine who would be comfortable with these tasks.