Valid last wills can provide for:
- Appointment of an executor of the estate. The executor should be someone you trust to administer the estate and follow what the will provides. The executor also pays the estate’s debts and taxes. He or she helps ensure that the beneficiaries receive what you wanted them to receive.
- Division of your assets. You can divide your assets any way you choose.
- Appointment of a guardian for your children. You can name a legal guardian, and/or an estate guardian, for your minor children. Make sure the guardians are people you trust to raise your children and/or to manage the finances of the child’s estate. You also can appoint a successor guardian.
- Care of your pets. To make sure your pets are properly cared for, you can list who you want to take care of them.
- Disinheriting of specified relatives. You can specify if you want to disinherit anyone.
- Your residuary estate, by using a residuary clause in the will. This is crucial because there will be property left over after all debts are paid and beneficiaries receive their designated property. Whatever is left over can be left to specific beneficiaries in a residuary clause. Without it, such property would be transferred by state law as if you had died without a will. It’s important to have a residuary clause so this doesn’t happen.
- Accuracy of beneficiaries after major life events. After a marriage, a new baby, a divorce, or any other major life change, make sure you change your will. You won’t want your ex-spouse to be your beneficiary, so an update is necessary. You also want your will to accurately reflect how the marriage or divorce affects your wishes for your children.
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