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4 things to include in your will

A will doesn't need to be overly long and complex to be effective. However, it must contain certain information to ensure your family and Florida courts honor your wishes. Include the following four things in your will for the best outcome for all who are involved. Keep in mind that it's best to draft a will with the assistance of an attorney who has experience in estate planning. Doing so will make your will clear and thorough, reducing the likelihood of any confusion and disputes among your family.

1. Guardian for minor children

The welfare of any minor children should be your top priority. Name who their guardian will be. A guardian can be a relative or a friend. Even if you discuss with the person about being a guardian, you should also have a second choice in the event the first has a change of mind or becomes unable to accept the responsibility. If you are married and your spouse has a separate will, make sure you both have the same guardian listed to avoid conflict.

2. Distribution of assets

Prevent ugly family battles by clearly stating where your assets will go. Assets are not only money and valuable items but also real estate and intellectual property. You don't need to include assets that already name a beneficiary, such as retirement plan proceeds and life insurance. Be sure to name anyone who will not receive any inheritance and the reasons why.

3. Executor of the estate

Decide who will manage your estate and related affairs. The executor's duties include the following:

  • Paying debts and taxes
  • Filing tax returns
  • Locating, appraising and distributing assets
  • Offering the will for probate

Choose someone who has the time and financial knowledge to take charge of your estate and will. Just as with guardianship, ask the person now to accept the role and have a backup in case the person decides not to do it when the time comes.

4. Management of digital accounts

From email to banking to social media, you may have many digital accounts that someone will need to take over. Give instruc tions on what you want to happen to these accounts. For example, do you want to memorialize or delete your Facebook account? Most importantly, include the login information for all these accounts to make it easy for the executor to access them.

These are only some of the things you should put in your will. What else to include depends on your individual circumstances. Consult with an attorney to ensure you don't leave out any relevant information.

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