Writing a will that pleases everyone is difficult. Your children may be given the bulk of the assets, but your siblings may be unhappy with your choice to leave a family heirloom to your child instead of them. In the instance of multiple children, one child may feel unfairly treated if assets aren’t distributed evenly, or if the asset they truly wanted went to someone else.
There is no way of telling what will transpire following your demise, but you can take steps to ease the burden by writing a will properly.
The division of assets should be discussed with your spouse and children, or anyone that you plan on including in your will. Through discussion, you’ll be able to tell your beneficiaries what you plan to leave them while you’re still alive. This allows all beneficiaries to come to terms with your wishes and leaves no questions unanswered following your demise.
Immediate family normally gets the bulk of the assets. This includes:
- Sons and daughters
You’ll want to do the following:
- Name your executor
- Name guardians of your children
- Detail how debts and taxes are to be paid
- Provide ownership and funding for pets
A living spouse will normally inherit all of your assets and custody of the children. However, if you own assets that are not considered martial property, you can have these assets divided among beneficiaries in accordance to your will.
The best way to make your beneficiaries happy is to be as specific as possible with your will. If you want to leave your wedding gown to your daughter, ensure that this is detailed within the will. Every last item of major importance should be listed to ensure that families do not quarrel over assets not mentioned.
If you’re currently widowed or divorced, you’ll likely leave all of your assets to your children. The problem is that children don’t always follow the life paths that their parents wish. In the event that a child is younger, they may not be of age to manage finances appropriately.
A trust may be the best option in this case.
While a trust is different than a will, a trust is still a smart option for many estates. When you make a trust, you will have an executor that does one of two things:
- Makes financial decisions for your children.
- Distributes money in accordance to the trust without making financial decisions.
Trusts will allow you to distribute property or money in a manner that you choose. This can be done in a lump sum or in disbursements. A trust can also include milestones that a child must reach before money is dispersed.
You do have the option of leaving a letter at the end of your will that will be read to all beneficiaries. This is a great way to say your final goodbyes. Updating your will is a necessity, and wills should be revisited once every 4 – 5 years to make any pertinent changes. In the event that you’ve purchased a new home or obtained a large asset or sum of money, your will should be revised immediately.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.