The specific terms that you include in your will determine what your family receives from your estate, what other parties may benefit from your property and what protections your dependent loved ones have. Wills can be as thorough or as generic as the person creating them decides they should be.
There are no two adults with the exact same family and financial circumstances, so every will typically includes certain terms that are unique. However, there are specific terms that many people need to include in their wills for their own protection or the protection of the people that they love.
What are some of the most popular and important terms to add to your will?
A guardian for your children
If you have children under the age of 21 or if there is an adult with disabilities who depends on you, whether they are your sibling or your parents, you need to think about who will provide support for those dependent individuals if anything ever happens to you.
Not only do you have to consider who might provide the best care, but you also need to get their permission to name them as a guardian, a process which can involve some very difficult discussions.
Recipients for major assets
Some of the most important inclusions in your will may involve designating someone to receive your primary residence or your biggest financial accounts. Your most valuable property will likely be a major priority in your estate plan.
Not only do you need to name people to receive your property, but you will need to review the list of assets that you included and named beneficiaries. Updating your will when your family circumstances or personal holdings change will be important to ensuring the document remains legally valid.
Someone to receive the residual estate
Maybe one of your primary beneficiaries will die in the same car crash that claims your life. Perhaps you have tens of thousands of dollars in personal property that you do not explicitly designate to one person or another.
Naming someone to receive your residual estate allows them to receive assets not inherited by others, either because beneficiaries cannot accept certain assets or because you have assets not addressed in your estate planning documents.
Some people may find that they need to integrate other documents, including transfer on death designations and trusts into their estate plans to better achieve their major legacy goals. Still, adding the right terms to your last will is an important starting point for a robust estate plan.