4 Steps to Your First Will
1. Begin With the Basics
Start by getting organized: Outline your objectives, determine the value of your property, inventory your major assets, estimate outstanding debts, and prepare a list of family members and other beneficiaries to whom you want to pass assets. You'll also want to ask yourself these two questions:
- How do I want to divide my assets among my family members, other loved ones and favorite causes?
- Do I need to make special provisions for any of my heirs?
|Read in-depth information about creating your first will.|
2. Choose Guardians
If you have minor children or an adult child, a parent, or a spouse with special needs who is your dependent, you must think about who will care for them when you're gone. Talk to your proposed guardian ahead of time about what you are asking, and understand that if you don't name a guardian, the courts may end up doing it for you.
3. Choose an Executor
Your executor undertakes many important responsibilities, including:
- Notifying all interested parties and agencies of your death.
- Paying creditors and outstanding taxes.
- Distributing your assets according to your will.
4. Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney
To avoid trouble for your heirs, seek the counsel of an estate planning attorney to help record your wishes in a legally sound will.
When drafting your will, you may spend a few hundred dollars or several times that amount depending on where you live. Whatever the going rate in your area, resist the "deal." Instead, select a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you save your estate money and eliminate heartache in the long run.
|Learn how to prepare for this meeting with your attorney.|
We're Here to Help
When drafting your will, we hope you'll support United Way by including a charitable bequest that will benefit our important cause after your lifetime. Just contact Denise Fleckenstein at 313-226-9254 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information about this flexible way to support our mission.
Share the sample bequest language for United Way for Southeastern Michigan with your estate planning attorney:
"I, [name], of [city, state ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to United Way for Southeastern Michigan [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."
Getting Started | 4 Steps to Your First Will | Case Study | When and How to Update Your Will | What Your Will Can't Do | How to Find an Estate Planning Attorney | Action Items
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The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes apply to federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.