Free wills month is upon us, and in honor of the promotional my firm is proudly participating in on behalf of the American Heart Association, Texas Children's Hospital, and The University of St. Thomas, I thought it would be a great idea to shed some light on important things to consider when sitting down to write a will. If you are meeting with an attorney to have a will written you will need the following information:
- Bank information: institution names, account types, and account numbers
- A general idea of what you're leaving behind and to whom
- A designated person you trust as your executor and an alternate person
- Funeral and burial requests, if any
1. Banking and financial information
This one is pretty obvious. We need to know what exactly you're leaving, and that is difficult to do without the specific name and account number of bank accounts, securities, and other intangible assets. Try to bring along a statement from each financial account you intend to leave to your loved ones.
2. A general idea of what you're leaving behind and to whom
Whether your earthly possessions or small or large, it is imperative that you know what you have and who you'd like to have it. Plan to take some time writing a list of your worldly possessions: your house, vehicle, investment accounts, retirement benefits, jewelry, artwork, and business interests are examples of some of the things you may want to specifically include in your will.
3. A designated executor + an alternate
The person you name as the executor or executrix of your will has the responsibility to ensure your will is submitted to the appropriate probate court and that your wishes are honored. Make sure you choose someone you trust. It can be your spouse, best friend, close sibling, or anyone else that you deem appropriate. Keep in mind, however, that life is uncertain, so there is a possibility that the person you'd most want as your executor dies before you do. In that case, it is highly recommended to name at least two people as your executor. To be on the safe side, come up with at least two people you would trust acting in this capacity and make sure to let them know you've included them in your will as an executor. You wouldn't want to name someone as the executor of your will who is unwilling or unable to serve, so try to give your selected folks advance notice.
4. Funeral and burial requests
Although rare, some people make their funeral and burial requests known in their Last Will & Testament. This is the place where you can let your family and friends know your wishes ahead of your death. Whether you desire cremation, a memorial service, or to donate your body and organs to scientific research, your will is an opportunity to spell out your desires about your final resting place and ask that your family honor your requests.