A Mom’s Guide To Creating A WillAug 10 2017
As a mother, you want to ensure that your children are taken care of in the event that something happens to you or your partner. Part of that care should involve the creation of a will. Why? Because while you don’t expect anything to happen to you when you are young, you cannot predict sudden illnesses or accidents. A will ensures that your children will be taken care of, especially if an accident affects the lives of you and your partner.
If you have any previous wills and are updating due to the addition of a new family member (either through birth or adoption) or because you have added more assets to your estate, be sure you cancel or revoke your previous will. Don’t forget to destroy the old will as soon as the new one is signed. Though a new will usually states that it revokes all previous wills, remember if the new will is never found – but the old will is – your new wishes won’t be carried out.
Personal Representatives (also known as an “Executor” or “Trustee”)
Consider who you will be appointing as your personal representative in your will. This representative can be another family member, a close friend or another relation who will navigate the probate process and ensure the wishes you outline in your will are met and carried out. When you are preparing a new will, it’s a good idea to choose a personal representative who has the skill set and capabilities of handling your estate. If you don’t feel that you have someone close in your life, there are also trust companies who you can hire to act as your personal representative in your will – for a fee.
More Than a Will
It’s always a good idea to create a trust regardless of family dynamics, but it is even more important if you have children under the age of 18. A trust can be drafted so that your children are provided for throughout their lives. As well, children under the age of 18 are not legally able to handle their own financial affairs so a trust appoints someone to ensure they are not only provided for but will have access to some or all of your assets to support them during their minority. Another option is to end the trust as each child reaches the age of majority. You can also include provisions in the trust that will take care of grandchildren or disabled adult children.
Before Drafting a Will
A will and estate lawyer requires several pieces of information prior to drafting a will or trust. By gathering them together beforehand, it will help streamline the process for everyone.
- Create a list of all assets and liabilities, including to whom liabilities are owed and the date you expect them to be paid off
- Bank accounts, location and account numbers – don’t forget cash and location(s)
- Life insurance policies, along with beneficiaries and their contact information
- Property information, including deeds and mortgages, and how you hold title (jointly with another person, sole ownership interest, etc.)
- Deeds and information on any other real estate you own other than your primary residence, even if you own a portion of the real estate
- Pension plans and other retirement plans, including location and account numbers
- Any stocks, bonds, annuities or securities as well as any businesses you own, even if you are a sole proprietor
- A list of all your personal possessions including boats, cars, RVs, jewelry, collections and other personal items
- A list of bequests and/or gifts along with who gets what
- List relationships, including previous marriages and children – mention financial obligations to a previous spouse, such as alimony and child support
- Your burial wishes
- Selected guardians for your children in the event you and your partner are no longer able to care for your children
- Power of attorney and contact information for the person you are naming
- Information for a trust, including how you want money and assets held or used on behalf of minor children
Creating a will or trust with the help of a will and estate lawyer can ensure that your children are taken care of in case of an accident or a serious illness.