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The First Steps in Creating a Will and Testament

The First Steps in Creating a Will and Testament

The First Steps in Creating a Will and TestamentA Last Will and Testament is important to have no matter your age or what property you currently have. Before your death, you’ll need to decide what happens to your possessions when the time comes.

While your attorney can help you complete the process of writing a will, here are the first steps you’ll need to take before you meet.

Assemble a list of what you own

You’ll need a list of the significant items and assets that you legally own to be given to the people or organizations of your choosing. (If you have an asset that is owned by two people, such as business partners or a married couple, the surviving partner will receive full ownership.)

Be sure to list important items like:

  • Real estate
  • Vehicles
  • Businesses
  • Cash
  • Investments
  • Family heirlooms
  • Jewelry

Smaller, insignificant items like pillows and kitchenware can be left to one person or place in a “blanket” bequest. 

Assemble a list of your debts

Next, you’ll need to put together a list of any debts you may have. While your family is usually not responsible for your debts, everything you own (your estate) is used to relieve what you owe.

Some of your debts may be dismissed while other must be repaid. This is why many people take out a life insurance policy. Life insurance can help repay some of these debts.

In order for your attorney to have a better understanding of your financial situation, create a list of everything you owe, including:

  • Property mortgages
  • Automobile loans
  • Private student loans
  • Credit card debt
  • Tax debt
  • Other loans

Decide where your possessions will go

Next, you’ll need to choose where your property, money and possessions will end up after your death. Most people choose to give these assets to family, friends or charities. These are called beneficiaries.

While most people have a good idea of who they’ll give their assets to, there are some questions you may want to consider:

  • Should assets be dispersed all at once or in batches over time?
  • Will future births, deaths or marriages affect who your property goes to?
  • Will you want funds to go to a specific purpose for your beneficiary, like education?

Choose a guardian for your children

If you have children who are minors at the time of your death, you can choose someone to act as their guardian until they become 18 years old. Many people choose a trusted relative or friend.

Before you list this person in your will, it’s important to have a conversation with them to make sure they agree to be a guardian. You should also choose several people as backups in the event that the first person chosen cannot fulfill their duty.

Decide what happens with online property

A newer aspect of wills is how you handle your online property, like email accounts and social media accounts.

Email accounts: After your death, your email account can be closed, transferred, or remain intact. Be sure to think about any sensitive information, photos or account access that you may have associated with the email address.

Social media: Some social media accounts, like Facebook and Instagram, allow users to have their accounts memorialized after their death, where login will be prohibited and your account will say “remembering” near your name.

You can also list in your will if you’d like someone else to have access to your social media accounts or if you’d like them deleted.

Hire an Attorney

After assembling all of this information, bring it to an attorney to have them formally write out your Last Will and Testament. Attorneys can help with important steps and conflicts, such as difficult relationships, state laws, taxes and more.

Since wills can be one of the most important documents you create, it’s best to have it done right.

This blog post should not be taken as official legal advice. If you need help with estate administration, you’ll want to work with an experienced attorney. An experienced estate administration attorney can ensure that the process moves forward in an efficient manner. They can ensure the assets are not undervalued, and that no excess obligations are paid, which preserves a greater portion of the assets for the intended beneficiaries.

Attorney Daniel Chambers has dedicated his career to helping clients successfully resolve their various family law, estate, and probate issues. He understands that estate administration issues can be complicated, and is personally available to answer any questions or concerns you may have throughout the process.

Call 205-913-4057 or click here to get a free consultation with an experienced Birmingham, AL family lawyer

We have used Daniel Chambers for legal services on several occasions since 2007 with excellent results. He has assisted our family in each matter with a professional yet tenacious manner. He has always been upfront about possible outcomes and honest about how to appropriately deal with challenging situations. I have recommended him several times over and will continue to do so. He has been an incredible asset to have on our legal team and we have always been satisfied with the results.

Melissa Childers




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