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Things You Should Know When Making a Will

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There are certain things that you should know ahead of time before you sit down and prepare your will. With some preparation beforehand, you can save yourself some time and make the process go a bit smoother.

The California estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver, Inc. are here to help you with all of your estate planning needs. Our attorneys can help you get started with creating a will and are also able to help you determine whether or not other estate planning methods may be beneficial to you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to meet with one of our attorneys.

1. Know What Assets You Have

When it comes time to prepare your will, you will have an easier time doing so if you have detailed information regarding your assets beforehand. If you do not know what assets you have to begin with, then your will may not be as useful as it could be with more preparation.

It is a good idea to take the time to review all of your financial assets prior to meeting with your estate planning attorney. This may entail reviewing all of your bank accounts, credit cards, retirement funds, and any investments. 

You should also review and consider including in your will any digital assets that you may own. Digital assets are things like social media accounts, websites, domain names, and even cryptocurrency. Depending on how you use them, these digital assets may be worth a substantial amount of money and may be assets worth including in your will.

2. Decide Who You Want to Serve as the Executor of Your Will 

While estate planning, there are a few times that you will need to name someone to handle a special responsibility. One example is the executor of your will. It can make the process easier if you have decided who you would like to have serve as the executor of your will before you sit down and have it drafted.

The executor of your will is responsible for overseeing the process of the distribution of your assets. It is a good idea to name someone whom you trust, and feel is responsible enough to be able to successfully carry out all of the duties that come with being the executor of a will.

3. If You Have Minor Children, Decide Who You Want to Name as Their Guardian

If you have minor children, it is crucial to determine who you would like to name as their guardian in the event that you pass away before they become adults. If you do not name a guardian, this decision may then be made by the courts. 

Such an important, life-altering decision should be made by someone who knows the children's needs the best--their parent (or parents.) Make sure to take the time to think about who you believe would be the best guardian for your children prior to preparing your will.

4. Choose Your Beneficiaries Beforehand, and Have a General Idea of What Each Person Should Receive

This may sound obvious, but it is helpful to decide who you want to name as beneficiaries in your will before your meeting with your estate planning attorney to have your will drafted. You should also spend some time thinking about how you want to divide your assets, and what specifically you would like each of your beneficiaries to receive.

It is also important to keep in mind that not all of your assets can be distributed through your will. For example, if you have a life insurance policy--the beneficiary named on the policy is the one who will receive that asset, regardless of what you state in your will. Prior to drafting your will, you should also make sure that the beneficiary information on insurance policies and similar assets is up to date.

5. Wills and Other Estate Plans May Need to be Updated Down the Road

Even after you have drafted your will, you should review it from time to time to make sure that the terms in the will are still in accordance with your wishes. When you have a significant life change, such as a divorce, it is a good opportunity to review your will, and any other estate plans to decide what changes need to be made. 

In other words, your will should reflect your current wishes, but know what you can have a new will drafted down the road if circumstances in your life require it. For this reason, it is a good idea to occasionally review your will to decide if an update is in order.

Ready to start creating your estate plan? Check our blog on how to prepare for your first estate planning session.

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