Creating a legally enforceable Will is an important part of estate planning. An enforceable Will is properly created, is valid in form, clearly directs the distribution of your assets, and, if applicable, states your desire regarding the care for dependents after your death. Below are three things you should include in your Will:
1. Legacy or assets.
Your Will should include your assets, identify who is to inherit your assets and which assets you want to give each person who you choose to receive an inheritance from you. Remember, if you fail to mention in your Will who you want to inherit your assets, then it is likely that your intentions will not come to pass and the people you intend to have your assets may not be awarded assets as you intended, after your death. Even if you make an oral promise, or your informally written intention without a legally enforceable Will, it is not likely to be recognized in a court of law. Oral promises do not carry as much weight as a written will, so make a point of reviewing and updating your will regularly with an estate planning attorney.
2. Asset distribution instructions.
Your Will should be specific regarding how and when you want your assets distributed to your heirs or legacies. For example, you might prefer that your minor children, nephews or nieces should receive their inheritance from your estate but not until after a stated age such as their 18th, 21st, 25th birthday, or later. You may also impose restrictions on heirs and expressly state any restrictions in your Will such as attaining a certain age or graduating from college.
You should name an Executor of your Will, and the named executor should be someone who you trust to responsibly assure that your wishes are respected and followed. By clearly appointing an executor in you Will, you can enhance the chances that your express desires are carried out after your death.
NOTE: Your Will should express your preference regarding who should be appointed by the Court to care for any of your dependents after your death. Also, if you have minor children or adult dependents, then before you name anyone as tutor or guardian of your dependents, you should discuss the details with an attorney regarding tutorships. Your preferences should be discussed with an estate planning lawyer with experience in handling estate planning and succession matters.
If you want to find out what other elements you should include in your will, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.