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A Checklist For Writing Your Will

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When you're writing out your will, there are many things to have in mind before you put pen to paper. Here is a list of the items to collect or decide before writing your will. 

What Are Your Debts?

Create a list of all of your debts, the amounts that you owe, and the name of the creditor. This will help whoever is preparing your estate to speed up the process of closing out debts and distributing your assets as mentioned in your will. 

What Assets Do You Have?

You'll also want to create a list of any and all assets that you have. Even if they are small, you'll want to account for them, otherwise they can remain in limbo while your lawyer or other executor figures out what should be done with them. 

Who Are Your Beneficiaries?

Children and spouses are the most common beneficiaries, but you don't have to limit yourself to this. You could consider close friends, other family members, students, or teachers who have had an impact on your life, people who have helped you in the past, and people who you think could greatly benefit from the boost provided by the assets that you leave them. It's up to you to decide how you would like to split up your assets among these people. If you have purposefully decided to leave out someone who would typically be included in the will, such as a child, then you should state this explicitly in the will and perhaps list an explanation. This will save some confusion for your executor. You could also choose to split up assets very unevenly with clear explanations of who gets what. 

Who Is Your Executor?

You have a few choices during estate planning for choosing your executor. It could be someone in the family who is well-versed in legal matters. There is some risk involved if this person isn't available to execute your will. It's often best to choose a family law firm that has a copy of your will to execute. When you entrust your will to a law firm, you can be sure that someone will be able to carry out your will as you wrote it and within all parameters of the law.

Other Considerations

Finally, if you have something that's non-standard for a will, decide what you will do with it before you sit down to write. For example, if you own a business, you may need to get legal consultation on how to include it in your will.