Creating a will is certainly not anyone’s idea of fun. But like any task, preparation is the key and can make the process go much more smoothly and results in the best product. There are several steps you can take to make this process easier not only on you, but your loved ones.
1. Determine your net worth by making a list of your assets, which is anything you own that has value. Include your home, vehicles, jewelry and other personal property. List your liabilities – anything you owe. Include your mortgage, vehicle loans, credit card debt and any money owed. To calculate your net worth, simply subtract the total of your liabilities from the total value of your assets.
2. Determine how you would like your property distributed.
3. Choose an Executor for your will. This person will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and other administrative duties for your estate. The Executor may be a spouse, family member or trusted friend, but it can also be an institution or professional. You should also choose a ‘backup’ Executor should your first choice be unwilling or unable to carry out the duties.
4. If you have minor children, choose a Guardian for them. As in the case of the Executor, name a second choice should the original choice be unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility. Talk with your selected Guardians about your choice and make sure they are willing and able to take on the challenge of raising of your children.
5. Specify any charitable donations you would like to make.
6. Contact an estate planning attorney in your state to sit down and determine the best way to carry out your wishes while addressing issues such as estate taxes and probate.
Estate planning and creating a will is a daunting prospect. Working with a New York attorney who is experienced with wills, trusts and estates ensures that your wishes are properly documented and eases the financial burden of your passing on your loved ones.