What you Need to know About Creating a Will (Part 2)

In Part 1, we spoke extensively about creating a will, appointing executors and a guardian as well as sharing your assets.

In Part 2, we dig deeper.

Keep Your Family In Check.

When money’s involved, things can get quite heated, even among the happiest of families. We’re sure your family is wonderful, but if you’re concerned about possible disagreements that can drag on for years, a Will helps avoid all the drama. You make the decisions so if they’re angry they can take it up with you and keep it out of court. And you’re not going to be too receptive to their complaints since you’ll be relaxing on a cloud wearing a stylish halo.

Property You Can Include in a Will.

Actual property, such as real estate, land, and buildings. Oh, and don’t forget to include all the landed properties in Ibeju-lekki you own. It’d be a shame if you left that out. Cash, including money in checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts, etc.”Intangible personal property” such as stocks, bonds, and other forms of business ownership, as well as intellectual property, royalties, patents, and copyrights, etc…”Unproductive property” such as cars, artwork, jewelry, and furniture, etc…

What Happens to All the Leftovers??

Who’s got time to itemize every single possession in your life? Enter the “residuary estate,” which is all the extra stuff you don’t think is worth listing out separately. (Example: Stereo system, end table, power saw, shoe collection, photo albums, lamp shaped like a tiger, etc…) For these miscellaneous items you designate a “residuary beneficiary” who takes charge over all the remaining assets you don’t leave to named specific beneficiaries.

You may want to leave instructions so this person doesn’t feel the need to save everything as an eternal shrine to you, but can dole it out to friends and family as they see fit and donate the rest to charity or the local dump. Before you leave all your possessions to a residuary beneficiary, make sure you take a basic inventory of your assets to make sure you’re not including a few gems you want a specific person to have in the leftover pile.

What If You’ve Got a Lot of Leftovers?

“Pour” Them Into a Trust…

A Pour-Over Will funnels any assets in your name into an already-created trust when you die. This is like having a holding room for any assets you may have forgotten about or intentionally left out of a trust that you would like to move into a trust after death. Hence the assets are “poured” into a trust.

Unlike the “residuary estate” mentioned above, once these assets are poured into the trust, those assets will be subject to the terms and stipulations of the trust. The reason people create this is to help heirs avoid probate or at least make the probate process go faster.

If You’ve Got a Lot To Give, It Can Get a Little Complicated.

If you have significant property or assets, or particularly elaborate investments or financial arrangements, get help from a lawyer to determine the best way to distribute said assets.

The lawyer can help identify tax-efficient ways to make sure your beneficiaries are taken care of, which may include establishing a post-death trust (fancy name: “testamentary trust”) or using other financial and legal wizardry he or she learned in law school.

Property You Can’t Include in a Will.

The short of it: If you don’t own something outright you can’t give it to someone when you die. What are those things? Glad you asked!

Any property you own equally with someone else. Example: You can’t give away a house you own with your spouse, since the property automatically transfers to the surviving owner. Any trusts, retirement plans, or insurance policies that clearly state a beneficiary. Stocks or bonds that are set to transfer to another party upon death.

Digital Property Still Isn’t Yours to Give.

While you may consider digital assets as your personal property–i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, etc…—the law doesn’t agree with you. Most online media companies (including social media, email and communication, photo and image sharing, etc…) are legally forbidden from disclosing content or granting account access to a third party without the consent of the owner. If the owner of the content or account dies, the law generally agrees the family of the person who owned the accounts is not allowed to access those accounts.

Solutions For The Digital Asset Dilemma.

Since laws and legislation have moved painfully slow regarding digital property, you have to get a little creative. Many people include login and password information in Wills in an attempt to transfer digital accounts to heirs; this doesn’t always work, since many companies claim the transfer of access violates the company’s terms of service. (This is buried in that endless scroll of rules and conditions no one ever reads but you’re forced to accept to access their service.)

While it may be angering to know that a social media company can hold your account hostage beyond death, you probably don’t want to put this information in your Will for a different reason. A Will is a public document, and sharing login and password information here isn’t secure. The Internet can be a mean place and who’s to stop some bored digital hooligan, or identity thief, from combing through Wills and accessing these accounts in hopes of causing all sorts of trouble.

This doesn’t mean you should give up and accept defeat. There are ways. Ask your lawyer about How to Create a Digital Estate Plan (we would write about that subsequently).

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.

It’s a good idea to periodically review beneficiaries to make sure the person or people named are still the ones you want to get the money or property. Things change over the course of your life–marriage, kids, divorce, cash windfalls, etc…–so it’s a good idea to keep everything current. Even if you’ve already named a beneficiary for certain assets–trusts, retirement plan, insurance policy, or stocks or bonds that are set to transfer upon death–it’s not necessarily set in stone. You’re allowed to change your mind and leave these things to somebody different.

Once You Get A Will, Where Should You Keep It?

In your home in a personal safe, a locked filing cabinet, or any place you feel comfortable. If you store it in a location that requires a combination, password, or key for entry, you have to share that information as well or else it won’t be of much assistance when it’s needed.

Keeping Your Will with a Lawyer.

Many lawyers will be able to store your will in a secure location in his or her office. If you choose to store your will with your lawyer, be sure to tell your family so they’re not tearing up the house looking for it.

Don’t Store Your Will in a Safe Deposit Box

Again, do not store your Will in a safe deposit box. Unless the box is jointly managed — and your survivors are authorized to access the safe deposit box — the bank will likely require a court order to access the box, and that could take a long time.

Informing People Where Your Will is Stored

Wherever you store it, make sure that important people you trust — your spouse, your adult children, your lawyer, etc. — know where your Will is located so that they can easily access it if/when they need it.

Enough Legal Talk, Let’s Get Personal

You’ve been inundated with a lot of information and have made a lot of hard decisions. This is the part where you get to kick back and be yourself without any laws, statutes or other complicated aspects getting in the way.

It’s called an “ethical will,” which is a terribly cold name for something with so much heart. At Wingman Legal we call it “Letter To Your Family,” where you get the chance to let your family, friends and anyone else close to you in this world know who you are and how you feel about them.

The thought of this letter gives us happy chills and misty eyes, because this is the culmination of all your hard work. Not just in getting a plan together, but in life and what you pass on to future generations. We’re fully aware people share so much through social media, but there’s something special about sharing personal thoughts directly to the people you love written directly from your heart.

At Wingman Legal, we can create a will for you as well as periodically update your will. We also help our clients keep their Wills safely.

Get in touch with us at hello@wingmanlegal.com

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