Just thinking about how to write a will will be enough to put some people off. It does not have to be a morbid experience. It is a necessity and makes for good financial sense.
Start by organizing what you need: outline your objectives, inventory your assets, estimate your outstanding debts and prepare a list of family members and other beneficiaries. Use this information to carefully consider how you want to distribute your assets.
Ask yourself lots of questions: Is it important to pass my property to my heirs in the most tax-efficient manner? Do I need to establish a trust to provide for my spouse or other beneficiaries? How much money will my grandchild need for college?
Taking inventory of the assets may be the key to making a will. Assets should be mentioned in your will. Any items not specifically mentioned may be addressed in a catchall clause of your will called a residual clause, which generally states, "I give the reminder of my estate to …" Without this clause, items not specifically mentioned will be distributed in accordance with law.
Outstanding debts usually will be paid by your estate before your beneficies receive their shares. You may want to clear up debts that you know will be a problem, or make specific provisions for payment of those debts in your will.
Remember to be specific and clear when naming beneficiaries. For example, state the person's full name as well as his or her relationship to you (child, cousin, friend, etc.) so your executor will know exactly who you mean. Clarity will also help to prevent challenges to your will.
Do not forget to get the will witnessed. A witness should not be a beneficiary under the will. Only one copy should be signed.
Once your will is written, store it in a safe place that is accessible to others after your death. If you had a solicitor prepare your will, have him or her retain a copy with a note stating where the original can be found.
The end of your life is something you probably do not want to dwell on, but thinking about what will happen to your loved ones and your assets and personal possessions is important.
Making sure you've done all you can to make their lives easier will give you peace of mind. And once your will is drawn, you will not have to think about it again unless something significant in your life changes.