What Should My Will Include?

What Should My Will Include

Your will should detail:

That you are of sound mind as you are reading and signing the will

The names, locations and dates of birth of your immediate family, including your spouse and all children, including adopted children. Talk with your lawyer about whether to name illegitimate children and stepchildren to avoid claims that you have simply left them out and would have provided for them if you’d been thinking of them.

Appointment of a guardian and alternate guardian for any minor children. Your lawyer will be able to tell you whether you should have a separate guardian to manage their finances.

A list of who should inherit specific items of property. This is often handled more informally with a separate list that can be frequently updated, which is kept with the will.

Where Should I Keep My Will?

A will should be kept in a safe place such as a bank safe deposit box or fireproof safe at home, where it can be easily located after your death. If you keep your will in a safe deposit box, you’ll need to arrange for your executor to have access to the box after your death. Many states put a freeze on a safe deposit box at death, which makes it more difficult to retrieve the will.

When Should I Update My Will?

Your will should be updated whenever:

  • You marry or divorce
  • You give birth to or adopt a child
  • When a family member or other beneficiary of your estate dies
  • When someone you’ve named as an executor, trustee or guardian is no longer able to fulfill that role
  • When you decide to change an executor, trustee or guardian
  • When you want to change the way your property will be distributed
  • When you move to another state
  • When your net worth increases dramatically