What You Need to Know Before Drafting Your Will

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

If you have decided it is time to make an estate plan, a big congratulations are in order as you have taken an important step in protecting a future you want for yourself and your loved ones. There really is no better time than the present to put a comprehensive estate plan in place and a will can be a cornerstone of such a plan. While you should not delay in putting your estate plan in place, there are things you should know before you have your will drafted and executed.

What You Need to Know Before Drafting Your Will

Before making a will, it can be important to know what happens when you do not have a will in place. Those who pass away without a valid will in place are said to have died “intestate.” In these instances, the state’s laws of intestate succession will apply and will dictate how the assets of the deceased will be distributed. Generally speaking, state intestacy laws distribute property to relatives in order of closest relation to the decedent. This means that, without a will in place, your property distribution is entirely out of your control and state law will control instead. If you have no surviving relatives and die without a will, your property will pass, or “escheat,” to the state. Furthermore, any guardianship decisions and appointment of the personal representative of your estate will be left to the relevant courts to decide.

Now that we know what is at stake in making or failing to make a will, let us move on to what you should know about your own situation prior to drafting a will. You should prepare a list of your assets. Approximate value and note any specific instructions about care or where the asset is stored. Do not forget to list your digital assets! With so much of our lives being online and on our computers, the virtual world is rife with financially and sentimentally important assets. Provide the relevant user names and passwords so that these assets can be accessed after you pass away. Store this list in a safe and secure location and be sure that relevant people are aware of its location.

You should also know who you want to serve in the capacity of the personal representative of your estate. Consider also selecting an alternative personal representative should your primary choice be unwilling or unable to serve when the need arises. Be thoughtful in who you choose for this important role of great responsibility. Also, discuss your selection with the person you have chosen to make sure he or she is willing to serve as a personal representative of your estate.

If you have minor children, you should also know who you want to serve as guardian of your children should you and your co-parent pass away. This is, of course, another critically important decision and one that you should carefully consider and thoroughly discuss with your prospective candidates. Make sure everyone is on-board with your decision before memorializing your selection in your will.

Minnesota Trusts and Estates Attorney

Estate planning is too important to put off. Talk to the team at Unique Estate Law about putting these important legal tools in place. Contact us today.


About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.