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The 5 Basic Components Of A Well-Planned Will

Creating a well-planned will involves more than hiring a good attorney. A will planning lawyer can produce better results when a client comes into the process with clear goals and a strong understanding of the basics. You should understand these five components of a will so you can competently plan your estate.

Identification of Assets

A person's assets tend to be the meat of a will. You need to identify all real and virtual properties that have value. Also, you should identify your checkings, savings, retirements, brokerage, and other accounts.

Note that your assets will likely change over time. You should consult with a will planning lawyer every few years to update your documents. People who have lots of assets or rapidly-changing situations should consider annually reviewing their estate documents with counsel.

Payment of Debts

Tax agencies and creditors have the right to force an estate into bankruptcy if the decedent hasn't paid them in full. Empower your estate to pay the debts as soon as possible. You don't have to keep a bunch of money idled to pay these debts, but you should have something like an interest-bearing account with the necessary funds. Many people use easily-liquidated assets so the executor can sell those and settle debts, too.


A beneficiary can be a person or an organization. When you identify them in your will, you state which assets will go to which beneficiaries. You also can tell the executor to apportion assets among the beneficiaries using a particular formula. For example, you might instruct the executor to sell your house and split the proceeds among your children and grandchildren.


People who have dependents should include guardianship clauses in their wills. A guardian is an individual who'll have all the legal powers needed to care for the person. Especially if you're dealing with younger children or adult dependents, your choice of guardians is critical. Make sure the guardians are aware of the possibility and comfortable with the role before you include the terms in your will.

Power of Attorney

You should also grant someone the power of attorney so they can make decisions if you are incapacitated or go missing. This power will ensure that someone can make medical and business decisions in your absence. A healthcare directive should instruct the individual assigned the medical decision on how to approach them. You can divide the power of attorney among several people to ensure the most qualified ones are handling each aspect of your life.

For more tips, reach out to a will planning attorney near you.