Creating a will is a significant undertaking. This is essentially the document that will guide the courts and your family on how you want your final affairs to be handled when you pass away. A will does not just cover what happens to your “stuff” either. If you have minor children or pets, a will is also used to name guardians who can care for them when you are gone. To help ensure you don’t miss anything while starting this process, our Minnesota estate planning attorney outlined some things to think about in the points below.
One of the first and most consequential decisions is deciding who you want to serve as your Executor or Personal Representative. This person will have the responsibility of working with the courts to open your estate, take an inventory of your assets and debts, get appraisals, oversee the process of paying debts, and ultimately, distribute your property to your beneficiaries. Your Executor may also have to make judgment calls in areas where your will is not entirely clear and leaves room for interpretation. As such, you’ll want to choose someone who knows you well enough to make those calls and can also be trusted with such a large responsibility. Finally, you’ll want to choose a “backup” Personal Representative in the event your first choice can’t or won’t serve.
Determining who gets your real estate and personal property is another large part of creating a will. You will need to specify as clearly as possible who your beneficiaries will be and the items you wish for them to inherit. These assets can be real estate property, cars or other recreational vehicles, cash, or personal property. You can also name alternative beneficiaries who can receive your assets in the event an heir dies before you do.
You may also wish to use your will to address any outstanding debts you have. Contrary to popular belief, your debt does not magically disappear when you pass away. Instead, it is paid out of the estate. If you have specific wishes on how this repayment should happen, you can spell that out in your Last Will and Testament.
Finally, you can use your will to name legal guardians who can raise your minor children or care for your pets after you are gone. A judge will have the final say in this decision, but they are very likely to go with the person(s) you’ve thoughtfully named in your estate planning documents.
Creating a will can be a more complex process than people realize, and that’s why many people will turn to a lawyer for help after trying to create one with templates online. Please know that our experienced Monticello estate planning lawyer is here to help you make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. If you have questions or you’re ready to get started, please contact us at 763-244-2949 to schedule a consultation.