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  • Writer's pictureDennis McGrath

10 Things to Think About Before Preparing a Will.

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Preparing a will involves a bit of time and forethought, but the team at MK Law has the expertise to assist you in the process. While the thought of creating a will is scary to some people, it is not so scary if your will is an accurate reflection of how you’d like to deal with your most important assets. If you want to help your family once you are gone, this is an easy decision to make. We can help you figure it out, here at McGrath Klaus & Associates, LLP.

We can help you prepare a comprehensive Will, a Living Will (which states your desires if you are severely incapacitated with no hope of recovery, and a power of attorney). Additionally, we can assist you in preparing a notice to your heirs of any final arrangements you may desire. While the topic is uncomfortable to think about, we can make the process less stressful for you.

SPECIAL PRICING - 50% discount through October 2020. Now only $995 for a Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney. Call today and mention this blog post for discount., Telephone 516-500-7711.

Some things you may need to consider for inclusion in a Will are:

1. Guardianship of children

In some cases, we find people write their first will after the birth of a child. In doing so, you’re protecting the future of your children and deciding who is to take care if them if you and your partner are no longer around.

When writing your will, you can nominate another person(s) to care for your children until the children are adults. When choosing whom to nominate as a guardian, consider:

  • Similarities with your lifestyle, values and religious beliefs;

  • Who your child might already have a bond with;

  • Whether the nominee already has or is planning to have children;

  • The transition, in terms of location and lifestyle, your children would need to make; and

  • Who can take on the role physically, financially and emotionally.

2. Assets

List your assets, perhaps in categories. It might also be helpful for you to jot down an approximate value of each asset and whether there is a mortgage or loan.

If you own significant assets, such as a house, property or car –identify whether you own this asset alone or with someone else. For real estate there are two ways you can share ownership with someone else. If an item is ‘jointly owned’, the surviving owner will acquire the property automatically when you die. The jointly owned asset will not form part of your will. If the item is owned as ‘tenants in common’, the portion of the property owned by you may be dealt with in your will.

3. Prized Possessions

When considering your assets, don’t overlook the smaller items. Such items may not be significant in value but they may still have an intrinsic, personal or emotional value.

Our will writers often see parents or grandparents leave their children specific gift items such as jewelry or other family heirlooms. Think about whether you have any specific cherished things that you want to gift to someone.

4. Appointing an executor

Your executor is a person appointed by you to carry out your final wishes as outlined in your will. When you die, your executor becomes responsible for managing your estate.

The role of executor should not be considered lightly. A family member who is nominated may feel very honored, but they will need to have the time to do it. Generally speaking, if appointing an individual, select someone who is a named beneficiary of the estate. Having to act as executor can be an onerous task for someone who does not have an interest in the estate.

In some instances, there may be no one suitable for the role. Or, if there is a risk of family conflicts and it’s not possible to nominate a neutral person to take on this role, you might consider nominating your attorney as your executor. This will provide peace of mind for your loved ones at the time of your passing. Using an independent executor service does come at a cost so make sure you understand the fees and charges. They will be paid out of your estate.

5. Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the persons, charities or organizations that you wish to benefit from your will. Beneficiaries may receive specific gifts and/or a share in your residuary estate. Your residuary estate is what remains after the payment of any debts, funeral and testamentary expenses.

On some occasions, items or assets other than money can form part of a beneficiary’s entitlement. This may arise when a particular item is written into the will to be given to a beneficiary rather than being sold, and form part of the estate.

A person of any age, including a minor (that is a child under 18 years of age), can be a beneficiary. However, if a minor is listed as a beneficiary of property or shares, the executor is responsible for administering the assets of the minor beneficiary in accordance with the terms of the will.

Once you have decided who to name as your beneficiaries, it is crucial that you are able to provide their names and contact details.

6. Giving to charities or making a bequest

Charities can be included as beneficiaries in wills, for example if the testator wants to acknowledge these organizations who have assisted them or other family members during their lifetime.

Do you intend to make a bequest? If so, decide which specific charity or charities you would like to benefit. If you regularly donate to certain charities, bring along any relevant literature regarding that charity to your will appointment so that it can be easily identified and included.

7. Funeral instructions

Writing your will is a time to consider your preferred funeral arrangements. We recommend including funeral instructions in your will to ensure that those close to you and the executor, are aware of your wishes. Have you considered whether you want to be buried or cremated? If so, where?

Quite often, the will is checked before any funeral decisions are finalized to ensure your wishes are attended to.

8. Managing complex circumstances

Life isn’t always straight-forward – there may be complexities in your family, financial circumstances, businesses etc. The great thing is that your will can be customized to accommodate your specific circumstances.

Circumstances which may be deemed complex and therefore warrant thorough consideration prior to writing your will include:

  • Excluding someone who would normally expect to benefit from your will

  • Previous marriage/divorce or other family complexities

  • Providing for a beneficiary with special needs

  • Having a self-managed superannuation fund

  • Being a company director

Be sure to explain these specific circumstances to the will writer; for example, why you may wish to exclude someone or leave a particular person a lesser share than they may expect to receive. This information may be kept on file and referred to if a claim is made against your estate.

We strongly recommend that you seek the advice of a specialist will writer when your circumstances are not entirely straightforward to ensure your wishes are correctly recorded.

9. Accountant / financial planner details

Seek out the most up to date details of your financial professionals – your accountant and financial planner. Make note of this contact information in a document to be stored with your will. Your accountant and financial planner’s details are required so that your executor can contact them after your death to confirm financial details.

By providing these details, you’ll make your executor’s role that little bit simpler.

10. Powers of Attorney

When you make your will, you can also consider preparing your powers of attorney.

A power of attorney allows you to appoint another person to make decisions for you when you are unable to make decisions yourself. It allocates the responsibility to another trusted person, chosen by you, to make decisions on your behalf. This might mean managing your financial affairs or making certain personal decisions for you.

We can prepare a Revocable Power of Attorney when we prepare your will.

Do you need help or advice?

If you have any questions about preparing for your will appointment or writing your will, we’re here to help. Call us at 516-500-7711, or see more about us at SPECIAL PRICING - 50% discount through October 2020. Now only $995 for a Will, Living Will, and Power of Attorney. Call today and mention this blog post for discount.

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