What Are the Important Provisions of a Will?
At Crow Estate Planning and Probate, we write every will to suit the client's individual circumstances. We know that our each of our clients are unique and their estate planning requirements are different. We take the time to sit and down and get to know our clients' situations and what they value. However, generally speaking, there are a few commonalities in all wills. Here's what they are:
Define Your Family
When a writing a will, the will lawyer should list your family members and define who they are. For example, if you are married and have children of your own and your spouse has children, the will should list them to make sure there is absolute clarity as to who you are referring to if you say “spouse” or “children” in the will.
Defining who your family is especially true if you are cutting someone out of your will. You would want to expressly note that you are disinheriting or excluding that family member at the outset. Be careful though as in Tennessee you cannot cut spouses of out wills.
Direct Your Executor to Pay Debts and Expenses
Wills should always contain a clause directing your Executor to pay off your debts, administration expenses, and taxes. So what does that mean? When you die you may have debts such as credit card balances, loans, or payments owed to third parties. These types of debts need to be identified by your Executor after your death and reported to the probate attorney. If they are legitimate debts, your Executor may be required to satisfy them. Additionally, administration expenses such as funeral expenses, attorney fees, or the cost of obtaining death certificates should be satisfied by your Executor. Similarly, if you have income, inheritance, or estate taxes owed, your will should empower your Executor to satisfy those obligations.
Make Specific Bequests or Gifts
If you desire to make specific gifts to certain individuals or to charity they should be specifically included in your will. For example, if you wanted to leave money to your church or to a charity your will should say so. Similarly, if you desire to leave certain assets to your daughter, you would want to identify the assets and state that they go to her. In any specific provision, you should also have a contingency plan if that individual dies before you or if that charity closes its doors before your death.
Distribute Your Residuary Estate
Wills should contain a catch all clause for all assets not specifically given away by you in your will. This part of the will is sometimes called the “residuary devise”. Let's say that you have given away certain assets, but are silent on the remaining assets. Your residuary devise should direct where the remaining assets go and how they should be divided.
Be Specific in Your Will
When deciding what assets to give to certain people try to be as descriptive and as clear as possible. This is especially true with personal property. For example, let's say you wanted to leave "my earrings" to your daughter. This provision could be ambiguous. Do you mean all your earrings, or just a few pair? What if you had more than one daughter? What if that daughter predeceased you, do her children inherit the earrings? As you can see, it is vital that you be as clear and unambiguous as possible when preparing your will. An experienced will lawyer will help guide you through the pitfalls of ambiguous language to ensure that your intent is clear.
Let Clarksville Estate Planning Attorney John Crow Help You Prepare a Custom Will
Whether you want a simple, straightforward will or a will that is extremely detailed, Will Lawyer John Crow is ready to work with you to prepare a will and estate plan that suits your needs. Give us a call today at our Clarksville office to discuss your ideas.