When preparing your Will, here are 3 things that you should consider:
1) What it is you are looking to accomplish? This seems like a simple question, and often it may be, but sometimes the Will can be more than just a straightforward distribution of assets. For example:
- Your Will is, in a sense, your legacy to your family. What message are your trying to send to them? Is it just a transfer of assets or is your Will also a statement of your values and what was important to your during your lifetime?
- Do you want to direct this legacy after your death?
- If there something specific that you want to convey to your family through your Will.
2) How do you want your Estate to be distributed? If you are married, your assets are owned jointly, and your spouse survives you, then anything you own probably will pass to your spouse during their lifetime. What happens when they die though? You can and should plan this along with them. Some things to consider:
- Are there any specific bequests, or gifts, that you want to make? Maybe there was a church or charity that you were particularly involved in that you would like to bless with a gift. Perhaps an organization that supports a cause that is important to you. You might want to consider a Living Trust to help with carrying out your Estate Plan.
- What happens to your estate if you do not have a living spouse? Does everything just go to your children if they are living? At what ages should they get the bequest. What happens if you have a child that does not survive you?
- Does it make sense to set up a testamentary trust (a trust that is established under your Will) which would control how assets are distributed
3) Who is going to handle the administration of your Estate? There are three different categories of administrators who you will need.
- Executor/Administrator - The Executor/Administrator is the person charged with administering your Estate. The person is called the Executor if there is a Will and the Administrator if there is no Will. You can name co-executors, but unless there is a specific reason to do so, I generally do not recommend it because it can just make things more complicated.
- Guardian - Usually when we talk about a guardian in the context of a Will, we are referring to who is going to take care of any minor children you have if both parents are deceased. While this appointment is not binding on a Court, it will carry a lot of weight with the Court.
- Trustee - The Trustee is the person who would be responsible for administering and overseeing any Trusts that you have established under your Will. One common purpose for such a Trust is to hold any funds that would go to a child under a designated age.
If you would like to discuss your Will and other estate planning needs, please contact L. Theodore Hoppe, Jr., Esquire - Attorney at Law.