This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.
Before beginning the process of drafting a Will, an individual seeking to have a Will drafted will need to provide certain information to their attorney. This is required to assist the attorney in properly drafting the Will. Aside from basic information, such as name, address, marriage status, etc., your spouse’s basic information should be provided as well. Additionally, if you have children or grandchildren, their information should also be provided to the attorney along with the names of other beneficiaries that you may wish to include in your estate plan.
The primary goal of drafting a Will is to plan for who will inherit your assets and how they will be distributed. Information about a person’s assets is helpful, for it is used to determine how assets will transfer - whether by operation of law or via the Will. All asset information remains strictly confidential between you and your attorney. Although some clients opt to not disclose asset information, providing asset information to your attorney is essential in the process of organizing the estate. This information is used by your attorney to assess tax consequences of the estate, to determine whether the estate will need to go through probate, and, if so, which assets will be included or excluded from the probate estate. Additionally, the information is used by your attorney to potentially minimize the need for probate altogether.
The following are examples of assets:
(1) real property (houses, condominiums, commercial buildings);
(2) bank accounts;
(3) retirement accounts such as pension plans, IRAs, 401(k)s;
(4) life insurance;
(5) stocks and bonds,
(6) personal assets including jewelry, vehicles, art, etc.;
(7) business interests
The Will designates to whom you wish to give the assets to. This is information that is vital to the Will drafting process. Further, you will designate Personal Representatives and legal guardians, if applicable.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list of what information is needed to draft a Will. It is recommended to speak to an Attorney so they can guide you in the process and tailor the Will to your specific needs and circumstances.