Making a will is often something that people don't like to think or talk about. But, it's a necessary process to take part in if you want to ensure your assets are properly distributed.
And, if you're the one in charge of making a will, you're going to want to make sure you ask your clients the right questions to make sure everything is in order.
Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we got you covered.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about drafting the perfect will for your clients.
What Do You Want to Accomplish with Your Estate?
In order to help your clients decide what they want out of their will, you're going to need to ask them. But, it isn't enough to simply say "what do you want your will to do?" You'll have to delve a bit deeper than that.
Instead, you should ask questions about things like:
- Do you intend to leave property to someone specific?
- Do any beneficiaries have special needs?
- Will the allocation of your assets favor one heir(s) over others?
By helping your clients define their goals, you'll be able to begin to lay the foundation for their will. This is far easier than trying to guess your client's needs and come up with something that may not fit their ideals.
Furthermore, take notes as you discuss these topics with them. It's often easier to map out what they want by listening to them rather than asking your client to put his or her thoughts into words.
How Thoroughly Should I Be Involved?
As previously mentioned, writing a will is often a difficult process for those who are seeking to plan their estate. It's not uncommon for emotions to serve as a significant obstacle in the process.
You should make it clear to your clients that you respect how often they want to communicate and how involved they want you to be in the process.
Similarly, you should also establish how often you're allowed to contact them, when you can expect certain information from them, etc. You should also establish their preferred methods of contact, such as email, written notice, or phone call.
This can be difficult to manage, however, when you need specific documents, decisions, and statements in order to move forward in the process.
Do You Know What Beneficiaries You Want for Your Assets?
This is a harder concept to handle than most people think.
Those who are writing a will need to decide how their assets are going to be distributed. But, it's often not an easy task to divide things up easily among your beneficiaries.
For example, if you make a blanket statement like "Tyler is entitled to all of the possessions in the house," you could potentially cause issues if there is valuable jewelry, antiques, etc.
Similarly, trying to allocate everything as evenly as possible can still come with problems due to the sentimental value some possessions might have. This could be exacerbated if the item in question is of high value, such as a car, boat, etc.
So, you'll need to work with your client to help them determine the best way to distribute everything. If they can't decide, you could suggest that attributes like age or immediacy in the family could be factors to help them choose.
Once you decide how "much" each beneficiary deserves (the term 'value' here could be monetary, sentimental, or both), you can begin to decide what to give them.
Who Is the Executor of Your Will?
An executor comes with many responsibilities. So, your client is going to want to choose someone that they trust.
One of the most important is making sure that debt the deceased may have had will be paid off before the remaining money distributed. They must also ensure that the beneficiaries receive the proper amount that they're entitled to.
Other duties of the will executor include:
- Locating and safeguarding the deceased's assets.
- Contacting individuals who are named in the will.
- Handling any unpaid taxes.
- Properly distributing the deceased's property.
Oftentimes, people are unsure about to choose the appropriate executor for their will. While it can be tempting to choose the family member you are closest to, you'll benefit more from choosing someone who is known for being responsible.
Additional factors to keep in mind include both the age and health of the executor. Young people with a good level of fitness are ideal since they're likely to be around to handle your affairs after your passing.
Steer your clients away from choosing an executor (or even beneficiary in some cases) who is known for alcohol or drug abuse. These vices can bring massive complications.
Be clear with them how much they're paying for your services. Keeping this number in mind will help people cut out the fluff and streamline their thoughts.
Finally, ask your clients how they felt about the process (and about any areas that needed improvement). This will help you improve your service in the future.
Making a Will That's Perfect for Your Clients Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn't have to be.
With the above information about making a will in mind, you'll be well on your way to ensuring that your clients have everything accounted for.
Want to learn more about estate planning that can help make your life easier? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog!