Four Basic Components Every Will Must Have

If you’re wondering what should go in your Will and what shouldn’t, there’s an easy way to answer that – start simple.

There are four basic components that every Will should have:

  • Your Assets – List out all the property you want to include in your Will. Keep in mind that some property, such as life insurance policies, retirement plans and joint property with rights of survivorship – don’t go into a Will. Items such as your house, your car and any personal belongings are all fine.
  • Your Beneficiaries – Who do you want to leave your assets to? How do you want to divide up your property? Will all your heirs receive equal shares? If so, make a point of spelling out what goes in each person’s share to avoid arguments during the probate process.
  • Your Executor – If you have a Will, you need someone to oversee your estate and ensure the terms of the Will are carried out. In the legal world, that person is called your executor. Choose someone who is intelligent, reliable and honest – you should always trust your executor’s judgment.
  • Your Signature – A Will must be signed to be valid and it must have at least two witnesses as well. Your estate planning attorney can help you find two witnesses that will be considered neutral third-parties, exactly what you want in case your Will is ever contested.

What if you have kids?

Then there are two more components you need: a guardian to oversee your children’s care until they reach the age of majority and a conservator to oversee their assets until they are of legal age to inherit.

To ensure your Will meets state law and addresses all your needs, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.