Once you have determined that you need a will, gathering the information that will be needed for proper drafting is not usually difficult. A will preparation checklist can ensure that your will properly addresses all your needs. Remember that if you die without a will, a probate court will have no way to know how you wanted to have your assets distributed and will be forced to simply follow state law, which can have all kinds of undesirable consequences.
Your attorney will need at least the following information to get you started:
- You, your spouse’s, and your children’s names, address, and dates of birth.
- Names of those to whom you wish to leave your property.
- List of real estate you wish to transfer via your will. Remember, only property that is in your name alone can be passed in your will. You may wish to consider transferring title to real property to a trust or to establish one for certain other purposes. Your Denver will lawyer can discuss this with you.
- If you have unique personal property, such as art, jewelry, or family heirlooms, ask the persons to whom you want to devise these items if they truly want them. If more than one person might want certain items, see if you can work out a compromise now. Don’t assume that family members only fight about items with high financial value. Your family members may have sentimental attachments to items that have no financial value at all.
- A list of your financial accounts, with tax-deferred retirement accounts noted.
- A list of your life insurance policies.
- Your current debts. Debts will be paid and new ones incurred during your lifetime, but the purpose of this is for your lawyer to get an idea of your estate’s financial condition. Your attorney may suggest the most efficient ways to pay off the estate debts before as well as after your passing such as with a life insurance policy.
- A list of people, in order of preference, you believe would be best positioned to handle your estate and who will be in touch with the estate’s attorney. This is the person you will nominate to serve as your personal representative. Be sure to ask the individual first if they will serve and name an alternate in case that person is unable to perform this role.
- A list of people, in order of preference, who could serve as guardian for your minor children (if you have any). Get consent from the person or persons before naming them so they are prepared for this potential event. You should also consider whether these people should manage your children’s money. .
- Instructions on how you wish to be memorialized and laid to rest.
With this information in hand, your attorney will be able to draft the right will for you and advise you on whether other estate planning techniques, such as a revocable living trust, would make sense for you.
Dan McKenzie is a Denver will lawyer who has been handling trust and estate matters in the Denver area for over 10 years and has been referred by numerous past clients for his thoroughness, integrity, and counsel on potential issues. Contact the McKenzie Law Firm today to schedule a consultation about your estate plans, including will preparation and drafting.