Basic Ingredients for a Will
“What information do you need from us to write our wills?” is the most common question we get regarding preparing a will.
While every family situation is different, the following is a good list of information for a will consult with your family lawyer:
The full names and dates of birth of all family members. In most cases, this means mother, father, and children. However, if you want another family member or friend to inherit property, we will need their information also.
Name and address of your Executor and Successor Executor. An Executor is a person you name to carry out the terms of your will. In most families, spouses are each others’ Executors. A Successor Executor fills in for the original Executor if he or she is unavailable to serve.
Name and addresses of Guardians. Guardians are people you trust with your children and their inheritances if both parents are deceased.
A list of your property (real estate, bank accounts, investments, business interests, etc.) and debts. In addition to writing a good will, an attorney can advise you about how you hold title to your property to avoid probate expenses.
Most families want everything to go to the surviving spouse and then to the children. We need to know if you want to make any gifts of special property to particular people. For instance, if one child has stayed at home to help run the farm or business, often parents want that asset to go to that child while compensating other children through other property.
If you bring this information with you, your family lawyer will be able to do a better job of writing wills that fit your needs.
By Thomas D. White, Senior Partner, White Law Office, Co.