Even now, a will is still one of the best ways to ensure that the wishes you have for your estate and belongings are carried out properly. While many times people that are interested in writing a will tend to use pre-formatted versions, all well-written wills start the same, with a complete and accurate list of belongings, assets and debts.
As often as attorneys like to impress upon their clients the importance of a will, it is equally important to take your time and include everything. A quick half-hour at the kitchen table probably isn’t enough time to remember your great aunt’s broach you want to leave to your niece. But, if you start listing things and find that it’s getting difficult, try taking a break and coming back to it later. Chances are you’ll remember something.
Keep in mind that your will is there to designate who gets what and how things get paid. Just as in life, in death your debts follow you until they are satisfied. Your assets will not be paid out until all your debts are settled. So a complete and accurate account of how debts, including funeral expenses, get paid will only help speed things along. You will likely want to include some type of clause stating where the remainder of your estate goes. You most likely, didn’t gift all of your belongings and assets away, and therefore a residuary clause will help button the last little bits of your estate up.
A well-written will may include other aspects such as naming fiduciaries or listing a trust for a spouse. Depending on your estate your will may be anywhere from one to 100 pages or more. The key to a well-written will is to include everything. If that means taking your time or asking for the help of an estate planning attorney, so be it. You and your loved ones will be better off in the long run.