October 21, 2019

5 Must-Read Tips for Creating Your Will

Creating your Will is probably not an exciting experience. Facing your mortality and the task of splitting up your assets can seem depressing, however, it is an extremely necessary thing to do to ensure that in the event of an accident your family will be provided for and your wishes can be carried out. Here is a list of 5 things to keep in mind when drafting your Will so that you can avoid some common mistakes.

  1. Don’t forget the executor and a backup executor. The executor of your Will is very important, as he or she will distribute your assets and be in charge of your estate after you pass. Don’t leave this job up to chance – you should carefully decide who you want to take on this role. To be safe, you should also appoint a backup executor to make sure that you will have someone you trust representing your interests no matter what. For help determining your executor or executors, you should check out this post.
  2. Specify your beneficiaries. You should be clear about who you are leaving what in your Will. For example, if you have several children, specify by name who will receive what aspects. Also consider the fact that “children” can be confused with godchildren or stepchildren once you are gone. Be as specific as possible when naming your beneficiaries so that there will be no confusion in the future. Also, if you specifically leave someone out of your Will, such as a child or spouse, you might want to include the reason why so that the executor doesn’t assume that this is a mistake and name these people as beneficiaries anyway.
  3. Update your Will. Things change over time. It is important that you update your Will to include new children and assets or to remove people such as an ex-spouse. When you experience any major life change – whether personal or financial – you should update your Will.
  4. Provide for the “what-ifs”. Consider situations such as a beneficiary dying or unexpected debt that has to be taken care of. Including these scenarios will ensure that executing your Will goes as planned.
  5. Don’t forget about the IRS. You shouldn’t necessarily assume that your estate won’t be a part of the estate tax system. You should provide for this possibility when writing your Will.

While drafting a Will is not necessarily a cheerful event, it is necessary. Your Will is an important document because you can’t be sure of how long you will live or how people will interpret your assets after your death. If you have wishes as to how your assets will be divided, you shouldn’t take any chances. Write them down in your Will and make sure that your beneficiaries get what they deserve. For help drafting your Will, you should look to a lawyer. Lawyers have experience with Wills and will probably think of important aspects of the Will that you might forget. Having some guidance in this process can ensure that everything goes smoothly. For help drafting your Will, you can contact me here.

Choosing an Executor for My Will

Choosing whom to name as the executor of your Will is a big decision. You are essentially deciding who will be in charge of your affairs once you are gone. You need to pick someone that you trust not only as a person, but someone you trust to be organized and prepared to take on this responsibility. This article will serve to help you decide how to choose your executor and who would be a good person to choose.

Who can I choose?

Before we get into who you should choose as the executor of your Will, let’s talk about who would qualify as your executor. Many people think that they can only pick a family member to be the executor. This is not the case. While many people do choose a family member to serve as their executor, you can pick a person or an entire trust company. If you have a large and complex estate with a lot of property and assets, you should consider choosing a trust company to be your executor. If you have a smaller estate, you can choose a relative or a friend, so long as he or she is at least nineteen years old.

If you cannot find anyone to act as your executor, you can have the Public Trustee be the executor of your Will. You will want to contact the Public Trustee before you actually naming it in your Will.

Who should I choose?

Ultimately, you want to choose someone that you can trust as your executor. To this end, consider the following when deciding who to name as your executor:

  • Ask someone who’s not in your family. A close friend or a business associate that you know on a personal level would be a good choice for an executor. Sometimes it is easier for friends or business partners to be unbiased when carrying out your wishes than it is for family members.
  • Ask a family member. When considering who you can trust the most, many people choose their spouses, parents, or children. For this reason, many people choose adult relatives to act as their executors.
  • Ask professionals. Like I said, large and complicated estates are oftentimes best handled by trust companies. Likewise, you can choose a lawyer, trust company, or financial expert to take care of your estate if you feel it will be too much for your friends or relatives to handle.
  • Age. Being an executor is a great responsibility. While your executor can be 19 years or older, you might want to choose someone who is older than 19 or 20 and mature enough to handle this job.
  • Qualifications. You don’t have to hire someone with a lot of law or financial experience, but you should choose someone who is mature and responsible. So long as your executor has access to advisors, he or she does not have to be a professional.

As you can see, choosing your executor is a largely individualized process. The right choice for you might be different for someone with a different family situation and estate. When choosing your executor, consider the size of your estate and the character of the person you choose. So long as they are honest, trustworthy, organized, and responsible, it doesn’t really matter if they are your friend, family member, or a professional. For more information, contact me here.

The Role of the Executor

Being named as the executor of someone’s Will is an honor. The deceased clearly trusted you with a very important task – taking care of his or her affairs once he or she could not, and ensuring that all debts are paid off and the remaining assets and property are given to the rightful heirs. This is a big responsibility and it can seem, at times, like an overwhelming job. If you have been named executor of a loved one’s Will, there are some things you need to know about this responsibility.

Do I Qualify as an Executor?

Because an executor has to deal with laws and finances that are oftentimes complex, you might think that only an expert in these fields would qualify as an executor, but this is not necessarily the case. Anyone can be an executor so long as they fulfill what is called fiduciary duty. Fiduciary duty refers to the duty to act honestly and with good faith in order to represent someone else. This means that you must be an honest and impartial person in order to be an executor. If you feel that you have these characteristics, you can be an executor.

What Does the Executor Do?

An executor has many jobs including:

  • Paying debts. The executor will have to notify creditors of probate proceedings and pay off any debts that the deceased has.
  • Paying taxes. Similarly, the executor is in charge of filing the final income tax return on behalf of the deceased. This income tax return should be filed for the start of the tax year up to the time of death.
  • Identifying the deceased (or decedent’s) property and assets.
  • Managing the decedent’s assets and property until the inheritors can take them. This duty could include deciding to sell securities or real estate or deciding to hold onto them.
  • Supervising the decedent’s property as it is distributed to the inheritors. The executor has to make sure that the property and assets are distributed to the right people according to the decedent’s Will.
  • Establishing a bank account for the estate. This account will be used to store money owed to the decedent.
  • If necessary, filing the Will in probate court.
  • Determining the necessity of proceedings in probate court.
  • Taking care of general details. This might include dealing with notifying credit card companies and banks/federal agencies of death.

As you can see, fulfilling the role of executor is no small task. If you think that you are up to the challenge, you will have many responsibilities. At times, this role can be confusing and overwhelming. If you ever feel like this is the case, you can contact a probate lawyer such as myself for guidance. I can give you the answers that you need and walk you through this experience. Even if you are not ready to retain my services, I offer free consultations, so we can meet together and discuss your situation at no cost to you. If this sounds like a good option to you, contact my office today!

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.